I would like to draw your attention to the article written by Collins Mwai entitled "Africa ponders challenges as WTO steps in way of AU self-financing model," which was published in The New Times on 9 May. This error was repeated in an article which ran in today's edition as well.
The article states in part:
The World Trade Organisation and the US government have written to a number of African Union member states on the legality of the implementation of the new self-financing mechanism.
In July last year, the African Union adopted a self-financing mechanism proposed by Dr Donald Kaberuka whereby a 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports would be imposed on products from outside Africa.
Implementation of the directive is expected to begin in January next year.
The mechanism was initially supposed to take effect in January this year but most member states asked for more time to make necessary internal preparations.
However, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has written to member countries, complaining that the move is not entirely compatible with its principles.
Among the aspects that the levy decision is allegedly in breach of is that WTO members may not apply tariffs on a product coming from one WTO member and not apply the same tariff on the same or like product when it originates in another WTO member.
This is incorrect. The WTO never wrote a letter to member countries "complaining" about the AU self-financing mechanism or questioning its compatibility with WTO rules. No such letter exists.
The issue was raised by several WTO members at a meeting of the WTO's Goods Council on 6 April, but the members were speaking in their own capacity. The WTO itself did not express any views on the matter.
We would therefore be grateful if you could run a correction and inform your readers that the WTO is not taking a position on the AU self-financing mechanism.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Director, Information and Media Relations Division.
World Trade Organization