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Trade Department

 1. Commercial Section

The Commercial Section handles work relating to multilateral organisations involved in international trade and development issues. These include, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and The International Trade Centre (ITC). 

a) World Trade Organisation (WTO)

The WTO is a multilateral organisation dealing with trade rules and disciplines with a view to ensuring the free flow of goods and services between nations. It came into force in 1995 and has a membership of 151 countries. Kenya is one of the founder members of the WTO.

The work of the Commercial Section as it relates to the WTO includes the following:

I. Following-up on the implementation, administration and operation of the Multilateral Trade Agreements at the WTO and advising the Kenya Government as appropriate. This also involves coordination with the relevant Government departments in ensuring smooth and effective implementation of the WTO Trade Agreements at the national level.

II.  Analysing the WTO Agreements with a view to identifying any possible impact on Kenya’s domestic policy objectives and advising the Government accordingly. In addition, the Commercial Section brings to the attention of the WTO membership for remedial measures the specific provisions contained in various trade agreements that might have a negative impact on Kenya’s development objectives.

III.  Participating in the current on-going negotiations with the aim of ensuring increased market access opportunities for Kenya’s exports through elimination and reduction of trade barriers by other WTO members. This also involves coordination with the relevant Government Ministries/Departments in identifying and articulating Kenya’s interests in the Multilateral Trade negotiations.

IV. Soliciting technical assistance and training opportunities for Kenya on WTO issues.

The Doha Development Agenda (DDA)

The WTO is currently engaged in the final and critical phase of the Doha Round of Trade negotiations which were launched at Doha, Qatar in the year 2001. The central objective of the current Round of Trade talks is to address the development needs and concerns of developing countries including Kenya in the areas of agriculture, manufacturing, services, trade facilitation and environment, among others.

The outcome of the DDA is therefore expected to assist Kenya and other developing countries to integrate into the Multilateral Trading System and thereby improving their trading and exporting opportunities.  The successful conclusion of the Doha Round of Trade negotiations will also result in the creation of a fair international trading environment where developing countries can participate equitably and reap the expected benefits from the current trade talks.

It is with this in mind that the Commercial Section has continued to actively participate in the current trade negotiations with the main objective of enhancing Kenya’s economic development and thereby contributing towards the realization of the country’s objective of becoming an industrialized state by the year 2030.

Kenya stands to benefit from the successful conclusion of the trade talks currently taking place under the WTO in terms of:

• enhanced market access for Kenyan export products,

•  improved terms of trade with our major trading partners,

•  removal of trade and non- trade barriers encountered in our export markets and

• Elimination/reduction of trade distortions (export and domestic subsidies) that cause unfair trade practices and competition on the international markets for the Kenyan farmers and the business community at large.

The Commercial Section has been at the forefront of advocating the need for the WTO to address the declining prices of commodities within the multilateral setting given the link between the commodity crisis and the poverty level in Kenya and the entire African Continent.

The Section has continuously portrayed a leadership role in the current on-going negotiations on the Doha Round and within the various coalition Groups formed among WTO members. The section also takes an active role in the WTO African Group and in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group meetings. Indeed Kenya is the focal point on Agriculture, Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) and Services in these groupings.
 The Commercial Section solicits and lobbies for Training and Technical Assistance Programmes as well as Internships for Government officials at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the Advisory Centre on Trade Law (ACWL) and the WTO. These training opportunities have strengthened the human as well as the institutional capacity at the national level for effective support on the on-going negotiations.

The Section co-ordinates with the Secretariats of the above Institutions and ensures that national workshops are organised every year on specific WTO Agreements. The national workshops organised so far have been instrumental in sensitising the relevant Kenyan stakeholders on the objectives and benefits of the WTO agreements. In addition, the Section has ensured that Kenya continues to benefit from training opportunities through internship programmes as well as trade policy courses offered annually at the WTO.


a) International Trade Centre (ITC)

The International Trade Centre (ITC) is the technical cooperation arm of the WTO. The ITC works closely with business community as well as business support organisations at the national level with a view to providing enterprise oriented assistance.  The ITC’s technical assistance programmes focuses in six core areas: Product and market development; Development of trade support services; Trade information; Human resource development; International purchasing and supply management; and needs assessment and programme design for trade promotion. The Commercial Section coordinates with relevant Government Departments in identifying the specific areas of assistance and liaises with the ITC for support programmes.

b) United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was established in 1964 as a specialized agency of the United Nations dealing with development aspects of the developing countries.  It is the focal point within the United Nations for the integrated treatment of trade and development and  interrelated issues in the areas of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development.

UNCTAD is an organ of the UN General Assembly with a membership of 192 countries and a permanent secretariat in Geneva. Kenya is a member of UNCTAD having joined in February 1964 and also a member of its Trade and Development Board.

The Commercial Section  coordinates the representation and participation by Kenya in UNCTAD’s intergovernmental discussions and deliberations on current issues on economic  development supported by discussions with experts aimed at consensus–building. In addition, the section follows-up on  research; policy analysis; and data collection undertaken by UNCTAD and shares this information with the relevant stakeholders at the national level. UNCTAD also provides technical assistance and capacity on trade and development issues for the benefit of developing countries.

c) Other activities

The Commercial Section also liaises with other organizations based in Geneva and dealing with trade and development issues with a view to benefiting from their research and analysis particularly on those areas being negotiated at the WTO.

The Section also coordinates with the relevant Government departments and private sector players regarding business enquiries on trade, investment and tourism opportunities.



- Ministry of Planning and National Development

- Learn more about Kenya Economy also here on our WebSite 

  Economic Survey 2007 (PDF; 281KB)


  WTO Negotiation update (PDF; 65KB)


  UNCTAD Negotiation update (PDF; 26KB)


- Ministry of Trade and Industry

- Kenya Investment Authority (KIA)

- Kenya Bureau of Standards (KBS)

- Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI)

- Export Promotion Council (EPC)

- Export Promoting Zones Authority – Kenya (EPZA)

- Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI)

- Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC)

- East African Portland Cement Co. Ltd. (EAPCC)

- World Trade Organization

- United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

- International Trade Centre

- United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

- African Union

- African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States

- The International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

- Third World Network

- South Centre

- Quaker United Nations Office

- Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy