Our trade advisers help development where it’s needed most

Vegetables for sale at a roadside market in Kenya. The Secretariat supports a trade adviser there, and 42 other trade advisers (through a joint programme alongside the EU, the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group Secretariat and Organisation Internationale de la Francophone) in other developing Commonwealth countries, under the Hub and Spokes Programme

Philda Maiga is a trade adviser to the Kenya Government. She’s working with them to increase the country’s exports to the rest of the world. Ultimately, their aim is to create growth and jobs for the benefit of all Kenyans. To achieve this, they are striving to link the government’s trade policy to the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and align it with Agenda 2030, the UN’s plan of action for people, planet and prosperity.

Philda is a lawyer by training, specialising in commercial law and intellectual property. She became an adviser in the Hub and Spokes Programme in June 2014. The programme provides trade experts to national ministries and regional trade organisations to enhance trade capacity in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states. It’s a joint initiative of the EU, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the ACP Group Secretariat and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.

Kenya’s new National Trade Policy aims to grow and enhance productivity, develop infrastructure and improve the quality of products. Philda advised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade on the policy’s development.

In June 2017, she wrote about her work and what it means for Kenya:

“The adoption of Kenya’s National Trade Policy, the first of its kind, in December 2016 was momentous and a profound feat for all policy-makers involved. As someone who advised the government on the policy from start to finish, I am pleased to provide this snapshot of how it will help to transform the country.

“In a nutshell, the policy deals with both trade in goods and services and has two critical parts: domestic trade and international trade. It synchronises trade with industrial policy and strengthens coordination with those institutions responsible for investment, agriculture, industry and energy policy.

“The domestic component of the policy focuses on wholesale, distribution and informal trade. Under the policy, a robust implementation roadmap is being developed to help grow and enhance productivity, develop infrastructure, improve the quality of products and develop laws and regulations for distribution.

Kenya's new National Trade Policy aims to grow and enhance productivity, develop infrastructure and improve the quality of products.

“The international trade component, on the other hand, deals with issues such as product and market diversification, trade facilitation and quality infrastructure. A major emphasis here is to enhance roads, railways and ports as well as energy, water and telecommunication. This is important as infrastructure provides links to the world market that are vital for export competitiveness.

“The policy clearly recognises the importance of services trade, whose contribution to Kenya’s GDP has reached 60 per cent. Services have become an area of comparative advantage for Kenya and can usefully be exploited to harness its potential to generate spillover benefits for the overall economy. The policy underscores services that facilitate the growth of other sectors of the economy such as agriculture and industry.

“It also recognises that while growing the country’s exports within the framework of the trade policy is extremely important, it is not the only part of the development strategy. Hence, it is smartly anchored in Vision 2030, the country’s long-term planning framework that pulls together social, political and economic pillars of growth.

“It is expected to boost inclusive development by supporting sectors that add more value to goods, rather than simply growing or extracting commodities. Towards this end, Kenya is looking to cluster sectors with high export potential under the national export strategy that is now being developed.

“In typical Kenyan style, several Bills which will deliver the National Trade Policy are already before parliament, such as the Trade Development Bill and the Trade Remedies Bill. Through this legislation, the policy is expected to accentuate Kenya’s position as a regional trade hub and make the country a target for investors. These reforms will boost productivity and employment, helping to deliver economic stability, predictability and security.

“This will provide the catalyst for the country to increase its exports to the rest of the world and, in due course, will help to create growth and jobs for the benefit of all Kenyans.”

The policy is expected to accentuate Kenya’s position as a regional trade hub and make the country a target for investors

Philda Maiga, Hub and Spokes Programme trade adviser to the Kenya Government

From strength to strength: the Hub and Spokes Programme

This EU-funded programme commenced its consolidation phase to February 2019 immediately following the end of Phase II in May 2017. The programme’s seven regional trade advisers (“hubs”) are assigned to AfricanCaribbean and Pacific regional economic organisations including:

  • Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
  • Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)
  • Southern African Development Community (SADC)
  • Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS)
  • East African Community (EAC)
  • Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
  • the African Union Commission (AUC).

Sixteen national trade advisers (“Spokes”) are assigned to trade ministries, including 12 Commonwealth countries (BelizeGuyanaJamaicaSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesFijiKiribatiSamoaTongaBotswanaLesothoKenya and Malawi).

Advisers are instrumental in assisting with the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), and EU Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).

In the Pacific, we provide considerable technical support and advice on the implementation of the recently signed Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER Plus). We also assist Pacific countries with their regional integration agenda, as well as developing and implementing national trade policies and strategies.

Advisers continue to provide technical support in the negotiations of international and regional trade agreements in Africa including: the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), the Tripartite Agreement among COMESA, SADC and EAC, and the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA)-EU EPA. Assistance with implementation of the SADC Industrialisation Strategy is a major focus for that region.

In the Caribbean there is a thrust to build and enhance the capacity of the private sector and support public-private sector dialogue. The aim is to take advantage of the services markets, as well as opportunities from the implementation of the WTO TFA.

Highlights of our Hubs and Spokes Programme work

  • We have trained trade officials in Jamaica on the country’s trade-in services commitments under the GATS, EU EPA and CSME in September 2017.
  • Our National Trade Advisers successfully completed their technical support to Malawiand Kenya on their National Trade Policie.
  • Lesotho‘s National Trade Adviser engaged individual private sector operators to enhance their understanding of the regional and global market opportunities that can benefit Lesotho.
  • Advisers in the African Union Commission provided technical support in the drafting of the AU Free Movement Protocol.
  • In OECS, advisers facilitated national consultations geared toward training and sensitising public and private sector stakeholders on the OECS Customs Union and Trade Facilitation reforms, and understanding the guiding principles and procedural requirements for the OECS Customs Union and Free Circulation of Goods (FCG) Regime.
  • Tonga‘s National Trade Policy Framework (draft) and validation process with stakeholders drawn from public/private sectors, civil society and academia were completed in May 2017 the framework has been submitted to Tonga’s Cabinet for approval.

“The Commonwealth Hub and Spokes II Programme coupled with the role of the National Trade Adviser provides the platform for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to situate itself within the broader context of a new emerging global trading architecture, which is being shaped by such major events as the UN Post 2015 agenda, WTO’s Post-Bali Work Programme, the WTO 10th Ministerial Conference and other emerging and evolving issues. Further, this Ministry in collaboration with the Hub and Spokes Adviser have pursued the development of a trade policy document, the review and expansion of the scope of the national Export Sector Strategy Document, Services Sector Strategy and the development of an industrial policy for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.” – Mr Nathaniel Williams, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, Commerce and Information Technology, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines