News / Africa

Ethiopia Seeks to Keep Trade Restrictions While Joining WTO

Ethiopia Seeks to Keep Trade Restrictions While Joining WTO
Ethiopia Seeks to Keep Trade Restrictions While Joining WTO

Ethiopia is asking to join the World Trade Organization without meeting WTO standards for liberalizing key sectors of its economy. The move is an attempt to kick-start Ethiopia’s WTO accession process, which has been stalled for seven years.

Senior World Trade Organization officials joined a delegation from Ethiopia’s Trade Ministry this week for a U.S.-government sponsored workshop.  The objective was finding a middle ground between Ethiopia’s refusal to open sectors such as banking and telecommunications to foreign competition, and the WTO open trade regime.

Reuters news agency quoted State Minister for Trade Yacob Yalla as saying that surrendering sensitive areas such as banking and telecoms would harm national interests. He expressed confidence Ethiopia’s accession would be finalized, but said "we expect them to respect our sensitivities”"

But the head of the WTO working party on Ethiopia, Steffen Smidt, says the country’s future trading partners would likely insist on an end to restrictive trade practices.

"When you enter into a trading arrangement, you automatically get access to other countries’ trade, based on the principle we called MFN. Most Favored Nation," he said. "Similarly, other countries get access to yours.  So in that sense there is automatically in some areas some opening up, or liberalization."

But the WTO representative said Ethiopia’s position as one of Africa’s poorest and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) might warrant consideration from trading partners.

"Those are the future partners in the WTO who would insist on having some sort of access in this area," he said. "So that they will respect that Ethiopia is a Least Developed Country, and Least Developed Countries have special principles people should adhere to, sort of guidelines that speak about restraints from other partners, so yes, there will be a deep negotiation on this."

The two-day workshop featured presentations by representatives of Cambodia and Yemen who led their countries’ WTO accession process.  Cambodia’s Sok Siphana said his country has been transformed since emerging from economic isolation on joining the WTO in 2004.

"We knew what isolation means, we knew what poverty is, we went through a very difficult period, so for us, we want to be part of the world trading community, and we felt that the WTO gave us that overarching development objective, and from there on, we never looked back," he said.

Siphana told Ethiopians at the conference that opening Cambodia’s banking sector triggered a surge in rural development.

"Our banking sector is thriving, now they are in position to move to rural areas, to start lending to rice millers, rice exporters, not something you would see from a banking sector that is cash poor," he said. "[They are] cash rich, they see the country developing. "

He says Cambodia has dreams of becoming one of Asia’s information technology centers.

"We even have as recently as two-three months ago formation of all IT companies in Cambodia, and their vision is in five years, they want to position Cambodia as one of the Asian Silicon Valleys," he said.  "Now that’s bold."

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, a former Marxist rebel leader who seized power 20 years ago, said in 2009 he hoped to complete WTO membership within three years. WTO representative Smidt expressed hope the accession could be done promptly, but cautioned that the process is still in a preliminary stage after a seven-year hiatus.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid