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    Partners in Trade Policy


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 2/2006

    In Kenya, ITC teams up with a non-governmental organization to broaden the debate on trade in services.

    Many developing countries are inviting NGOs to assist them in their trade policy-making, for example when taking part in WTO talks. NGOs have played an advisory role in some developing country delegations in the last three Ministerial Conferences at least. The following case shows how a government, an NGO and ITC combined their know-how to analyse Kenya's prospects for services.

    In Kenya, a Richer Debate on Services

    by Linda Schmid, ITC Adviser on Trade in Services

    Kenyans benefited from a broader debate about services markets and WTO negotiations, thanks to an informal collaboration between ITC and the NGO International Lawyers and Economists Against Poverty (ILEAP). In July 2005, ITC commissioned a study of Kenya's service trade capacity with a survey of the private sector. This study found market opportunities for services in the East African Community and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa. Most importantly for trade negotiations, the study identified constraints faced by Kenyan service exporters in the region.

    ILEAP, which helps African countries to carry out the kind of analysis they need to participate effectively in WTO negotiations, approached ITC to join with them in supporting a workshop for Kenya's National Committee on the WTO. In Nairobi, the Committee would consider requests made to Kenya from its trading partners with a view to revising its services offer under the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS).

    We came together because we were both working for the same client: the Kenyan Ministry of Trade and Industry. ILEAP wanted to use the study on services and leverage ITC's expertise of looking at service negotiations from a private sector perspective. ITC wanted to support ILEAP's initiative of financing and facilitating national dialogue on services to improve the environment for service exporters. Together, we worked hand-in-hand with the Ministry to support their efforts to assess the viability of additional commitments under the GATS.

    The national workshop allowed Kenyans to look at their own market, to consider service export opportunities and to determine if the Kenyan legislative framework and oversight institutions could sustain increased competition from foreign firms. It was Kenyans who researched their services market, Kenyans who spoke with their service providers about how they trade and Kenyans who will ultimately determine for themselves how they develop their economy. ITC and ILEAP simply played supporting roles.

    At the workshop, our client asked for help to undertake deeper analysis of the rules regulating their services market. ITC and ILEAP responded by developing a survey for regulatory agencies that oversee the Kenyan services market. ILEAP is now undertaking the survey with the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

    Our collaboration was informal, but it contributed meaningfully to helping Kenya pursue its interests in the GATS negotiations. By working together, ITC and ILEAP were better able to serve their client. The Government of Kenya benefited from a richer debate about the reality of the services market in Kenya.

    Contact: services@intracen.org