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Thursday, December 1, 2022

On Okonjo Iweala’s WTO Appointment

Last week, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) made history when its General Council agreed by consensus to select Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the organisation’s seventh Director-General.
THOUGH world leaders have been sending Iweala congratulatory messages and to Nigeria her selection arrives after months of uncertainty arising over the United States’ initial refusal to join the consensus around her, preferring to support Trade Minister Yoo Myung-Lee of the Republic of Korea.
WITH the administration of newly elected president Joseph Biden Jr. dropping the US objections against Okonjo-Iweala, she makes history as the first woman and the first African to be chosen as Director-General, with a renewable term expiring on August 31, 2025.
AS expected, her appointment has elicited comments and goodwill messages across the globe . Nigeria former Consult General to the United States, Ambassador Joe Keshi said that Nigeria will benefit from her appointment when citizens decide to be productive.
IN his comments, David Walker of New Zealand, WTO’s General Council Chairman, congratulated Iweala and welcomed her to the organisation’s General Council meeting.
SAYING that the WTO looks forward to working with Okonjo-Iweala, Walker said she would be supported to shape the future of the organization during her tenure as Director-General.
THE HOPE expresses happiness with the emergence of Okonjo-Iweala at the helms of affairs of the WTO and feels the achievement is not only gratifying but calls for celebration.
WHILE the WTO provides a forum for governments of its 164 members nations to negotiate trade agreements, the body also calls for the liberalization of trade for the mutual benefits of its members.
BASED on the issues of trade liberalization, countries which have been able to leverage their trade opportunities and which have been able to improve the competitiveness of their products stand to gain from Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment.
SEEN from this perspective, Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment will benefit the country if the Nigerian economy builds the capacity internationally of its products and services.
APART from improving the international competitiveness of our products, Nigeria can gain through addressing its trade facilitation issues, foreign exchange policies, trade polices, and industrial policies.
Nigeria must latch on the current mood of the country and its leadership that the citizens eat and wear what can be produced locally. Nigeria can gain from Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment if it strives to promote local value addition and backward integration to strengthen the competitiveness of our fast-disappearing domestic industries.
SINCE nations that will benefit from Okonjo-Iweala already have trade policy reforms in accordance with the principles of comparative advantage, Nigeria can only join this select group if it does the same thing, so it can optimize opportunities in the global arena and enhance the welfare of her suffering citizens.
THOUGH Okonjo-Iweala will head the WTO, there is no gain saying the fact that the organization will not give any preferential treatment to this country, so Nigeria has to critically carry out reforms in the areas of port infrastructure, port processes, and international trade documentation to earn global sympathy and help .
TO increase the chances of this nation benefiting from Okonjo-Iweala’s tenure, it also needs to improve its strategy in managing the soul-destroying coronavirus pandemic ranging from ensuring compliance to safety protocols to vaccine procurement and distribution.
HAVING said this, we commend the new WTO Director-General for having been selected out of eight candidates who participated in the selection process for the job.
SHE should be fair, courageous and transparent in her duties and avoid scandals that have brought many high profile bureaucrats down from their olympian heights. We believe Okonjo Iweala will not bring disgrace to Africa, the black race and Nigeria as she mounts the saddle.
SHE should emulate Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the Africa Development Bank President, whose performance on the job has been efficient and worthy of commendation.
THOUGH she would be wearing two caps as a politician and a professional, Okonjo-Iweala has to be deft by avoiding the banana peel in and out of office .
FINALLY, she should explore ideas about how global trade can help ease the COVID-19 pandemic, tackle climate change, and restore faith in the system of cooperation regarding international trade that has faltered in recent years.


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