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Kenya offers major push for Bali trade deal ahead of WTO meeting

NAIROBI, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- Kenya has signaled willingness to support the implementation of the 2013 "Bali Package" by ratifying the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) reached at a previous ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Bali, Indonesia

The WTO Secretariat announced Kenya's ratification of the trade agreement on Thursday, ahead of next week's opening of the 10th ministerial conference of the WTO in Nairobi, which aims at reviving the stalled talks on a binding global trade deal.

"The WTO Secretariat received Kenya's instruments of acceptance on Dec. 10," the WTO said in a statement after Nairobi accepted to become part of the initial group of countries ready to cooperate on ensuring speedy clearance of goods in transit.

The TFA agreement was concluded at the Bali Ministerial Conference in 2013. According to the WTO, the agreement contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit.

It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It further contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area.

"Trade Facilitation is a policy good for countries in an integrated and competitive global economy," Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Amina Mohammed declared in July, when she addressed the WTO's 5th Global Review of Aid for Trade Conference.

Mohamed, who is also in charge of international trade, said high trade costs have been identified as a brake on trade integration, growth and development.

Kenya is the 57th WTO member and sixth African nation to ratify the TFA. The agreement enters force once two-thirds of the formally accept it. The WTO believes the agreement has the potential to increase global merchandise exports by up to 1 trillion U.S. dollars a year.

WTO officials said the TFA broke new ground for developing and least-developed countries in the way it will be implemented. Under the agreement, a new facility was also created to render the required assistance to poor countries to help them reap the full benefits of the TFA.

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