No protocol nor gigantic security detail contrary to my expectations but a reserved quiet looking man sauntered to the Accession hall with minimal security, flagged by a small delegation. At first I was a bit confused whose photos I was to take? Only to realize this is the man of the moment we had been waiting for close to 20 minutes, the First Deputy Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammed Khan Rahmani.
The hall is half empty and with no restrictions I get the privilege to seat on the second row after the Afghanistan delegation. Two women are represented in the company of 15 men is not a bad thing for this noble country where the voice of women are always relegated to the background.
The Afghan delegation is very interesting they are all upright no one moves, minimal exchanges unlike a few rows behind me some French speaking West African Minister is just talking so loudly you can barely hear the speakers forcing me to harsh them down. Proud moments as I join the Afghan people as they make a historic mark at the 10th Ministerial meeting of WTO in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
Amidst the reports by international media of air-strikes, suicide bombers and the Taliban war a country that is still seeing war and atrocities meted against it has had courage to stand up and fight against all odds to join the world in trade. Afghanistan is a country that is in the corridor of the Central Asia and neighboring the wannabe Superpower China as the 164th Member of the multilateral trading organization, World Trade Organization (WTO). The 35th member of the Least Developed Countries following Liberia has a staggering population of 30.5 million people.
The world joined to congratulate Afghanistan which was once a major horticultural exporter that accounted for 10% of the world’s dried fruit market in the 1970s according to a report by Afghan government site.
Afghan’s journey to WTO started in 2004, culminating to 11 years of negotiations for the war torn country which is ready to make peace and rebuild itself from a donor and import dependent economy.
I bet the Afghan delegation in Kenya is having the best time in their lifetime. In a little known country Kenya sleeping comfortably without thinking of the air-strikes at night and the bunkers. A guileless question hangs in the air so pregnant in thought whether Afghanistan Accession will be the end or ease of airstrikes by the American government in the name of fighting against the Taliban and extremists. Will this Accession see cease fire and negotiations that will bring a lasting Peace elucidation.
WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo joined to congratulate the Afghan Islamic Republic for the historic achievement “It is a clear sign for all the world to see that Afghanistan is building a business-friendly environment. Countries undertaking the reforms required to join the WTO tend to grow at around 2.5 percentage points faster than others once the process is completed.”
The joint trade agency of WTO and United Nations, International Trace Center joined the world in congratulating the Afghanistan Islamic Republic. ITC’s Executive Director Arancha Gonzalez noted “The Government of Afghanistan is already thinking ahead on how being a part of the WTO can be an important lever to increase the competitiveness of their SMEs. I can assure you, that the International Trade Center will continue to partner with Afghanistan to make this a reality.” The ITC is currently in the process of preparing a package of trade support for Afghanistan financed by the European Commission. ITC pledged to support the design and implementation of a National Export Strategy and implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.
In a short interview with the First Deputy Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammed Khan Rahmani noted he was elated that his government had joined the multilateral trade organization “We want to be the most active member in the region.”
The American government joined the world to laud the move by Afghanistan to join WTO in a reported presser by an Afghan media house- TOLO news, the US State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said “For Afghanistan’s, accession to the WTO is a major step forward for the Afghan Government’s efforts to unlock the potential of the Afghan economy”
Kirby added “the Afghan government needs to work with parliament and other stakeholders to take steps needed to receive the full benefits of membership”
The Director General Azvedo also announced the application by Kenya’s war torn neighbor Somalia to WTO “And just this morning I am pleased to say that we received the membership application of the Federal Republic of Somalia”. Again I credulously ask will the Accession of Somalia to WTO quieten the extremists Al Shabaab in Somalia?
Media Relations Consultant.