Chairperson, Tripartite Trade Negotiation Forum

Members of the Tripartite Task Force

Distinguished Delegates, all protocols observed

First and foremost, on behalf of the Government and the people of Kenya, let me welcome you to Nairobi. Kenya was honoured to have hosted the 1st Tripartite Trade Negotiation Forum in December 2011 after the June 2011 Summit; and now hosting the last TTNF before the next Summit in June 2015.

Second, let me express my gratitude for being part of this important process, Tripartite Trade Negotiation Forum, whose main objective is to boost intra-regional trade by creating a wider market, increase investment flows and enhance competitiveness. This will in the long-run create more jobs and wealth and contribute in poverty reduction in all member/partner states.

Distinguished Delegates, I have been informed that during the past fora, significant progress have been achieved; notably that the draft Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement is virtually complete.

As you embark on the final face of the negotiations please focus on the big picture. Avoid too much emphasis on national interests that may slow down the process. Numerous successes experienced in COMESA, EAC and SADC are proof that integration programmes can be successfully developed and implemented across the boundaries of the Regional Economic Communities and indeed for the benefit of the entire African continent.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have noted that your agenda includes Progress Report on Preparation and Exchange of Tariff offers. Unfortunately am informed that progress in this area has been slow. I hope you take this opportunity to re-asses the progress and recommit yourself to speedily conclude the process. A strategic direction is also needed from you on how to deal with unfinished agenda in the Rules of Origin. There will be no meaningful TFTA without substantial progress on these 2 key frameworks.

However, largely I am impressed by overall progress so far. It is now my pleasure to declare this Forum officially opened.

Thank you for your attention.