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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid