Nigeria: Private Sector Operators Hail New WTO DG

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (file photo).
17 February 2021

Members of the organised private sector have hailed the confirmation of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the director general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

They also urged her to initiate reforms that would enhance the participation of third world countries in international trade.

A congratulatory message that was signed by the National President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Mrs. Saratu Iya Aliyu, stated that Okonjo-Iweala's emergence reaffirmed the confidence of the global community in her ability to deliver.

Aliyu said: "We have confidence in the experience and ability of Okonjo-Iweala to achieve the much needed reform at the WTO, especially for developing countries which have been calling for a level playing field in the field of international trade and access for their products to markets in the developed world."

Also, the Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, said it was a delight to have her elight for being the first female and the first African to head the WTO.

Yusuf noted that Okonjo-Iweala emerged at a time the global trading system was faced with numerous challenges including supply chain disruptions that were precipitated by COVID-19 pandemic, rising protectionism and growing economic nationalism among nations and urged Nigeria to build capacity for international competitiveness and undertake reforms of its, "tariff policy in accordance with the principles of comparative advantage, which would enable the country to optimise opportunities in the global trade arena."

He emphasised the need to manage expectations around the outcomes of her confirmation for the Nigerian economy that grapples with competitiveness' challenges.

Similarly, the Director General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr. Segun Ajayi-Kadir, described the confirmation of Okonjo-Iweala as a moment of great excitement, a plus for Nigeria in the international community and a welcome development for Africa especially now the continent is launching its own free trade area.

He said that having an African at the helm of affairs in the WTO should give some comfort and assuage the noticeable anxieties of African countries in the world trade parlance.

"There is no doubt that the WTO is in need of major reforms. So the experience and expertise Okonjo-Iweala is bringing to the organisation will provide the needed guidance to forge the reforms," he said.

Ajayi-Kadir tasked Okonjo-Iweala to immediately ensure ease of the flow of goods, particularly protective gear, drugs and vaccines, etc. to fight the COVID-19 pandemic disease. "So she needs to sort out the so called vaccine nationalism and negotiate the flow of this viral medicament to reach all nations, including the poorer ones," he said.

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