NAIROBI, Aug 25 (NNN-KBC) — Eight more African countries have applied to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) in a move which is set to boost Africa’s voice on the global trade stage.

Four of them have been given the nod by the WTO’s accession council to start the formal process and Kenya, a WTO member since 1995, has been appointed to guide them through the process.

Next week, officials from these four countries — Ethiopia, Sudan, Comoros and Somalia — will gather in Nairobi for a WTO regional conference which will set the accession process in motion.

Since its formation 22 years ago, the World Trade Organization has evolved to become the top most trade rules-setting body in the world with 164 member countries.

Last year, more than 7,000 delegates from around the world converged in Nairobi for three days to deliberate on how to strengthen world trade in the face of rising protectionism. During the meeting, it was apparent that China, the United States and Europe still have the big say on trade matters.

In order to deal with this, more African, Asian, Caribbean and South American countries were urged to join the trade body in order to bolster their voice in the body. ally start the accession process.

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Kenyan Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary (Minister) Amina Mohamed says the three-day Nairobi meeting will lay the foundation for the four African countries to be admitted into the trade organization. Kenya, as a founder member of the WTO, is in talks with more African countries to facilitate their joining the body.

The four countries are likely to be allowed to join the organization in December this year during the annual ministerial meeting to be held in Argentina.