The Centre for Trade and Business Environment Advocacy (CTBA) in a press statement has congratulated Nigeria’s two-time Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, , on her emergence as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The statement reads that “Noteworthy is the fact that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has made history as the first woman and the first African to occupy that position. She comes with a wealth of experience and – more importantly – the determination to make a difference.
Therefore, the Non-governmental organization also congratulated the members of the WTO for seeing the leadership selection process through to a successful conclusion, despite the initial hiccups in the process.
Reacting to the news of the selection of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, the Founder and Executive Director of CTBA, Mr. Leonard Otuonye Ugbajah said: “the emergence of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, is proof of the fact that the WTO membership recognizes the need to think outside the rather closed box of commercial interests in solving the most pressing problems facing our world today.
Indeed, the WTO, which derives its core nature from the GATT of 1947 stands in dire need of a makeover to address the discontents across its developed and developing members. Members should now decide with finality, the fate of the moribund Doha Round, which in my opinion deserves a decent burial after its key organs (issues of importance to developing countries) are harvested for inclusion in future negotiating rounds”.
Speaking further on the task ahead of the WTO and the new DG, Mr. Ugbajah said that “The members need to conclude the negotiations on fisheries subsidy in the Ministerial Conference later this year while ensuring that global trade rules contribute to lifting the poorest countries out of the COVID-19 induced health and economic crisis following the stated objectives contained in the preamble to the Marrakesh Agreement of 1994 establishing the WTO”.
Following the resolution of the leadership crisis and the role the new U.S administration has played in the process, the organization expresses hope that the U.S would now support the appointment of Appellate Body members to continue the especially important adjudicatory work of the WTO.
In the statement signed by CTBA’s Programme Officer, Ms. Miracle Okoro, it went further to say that there is a need to continue pursuing a holistic reform of the institutional framework of the WTO to address such issues as the balance of power in decision making; proper alignment of special and differential treatments (SDTs) to serve the interest of developing countries better; the powers and processes of the Dispute Settlement Body; the interaction between the principle of multilateralism upon which the body is built and the increasing tendency towards a plurilateral approach to rules setting.
“Finally, while we join our fellow Nigerians and indeed Africans in celebrating the appointment, it is important to note that the WTO is a membership-led organization and the position of the DG of WTO is to serve the interest of the diverse membership. It hardly confers on the holder the powers to influence decisions in a particular way.
However, we expect that the emergence of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala as the DG of WTO would lead to more informed debate and decisions on trade policy and regulation in Nigeria and the African continent, especially as we enter the operationalization phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)”, the statement said.
CTBA used the medium to commend the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari for nominating and standing with Dr. Okonjo-Iweala throughout the selection process. We wish Madam DG a successful tenure ahead!
The Centre for Trade and Business Environment Advocacy (CTBA) is a non-governmental organization which prides itself as the new voice for evidence-based, participatory trade and regulatory governance reforms in Nigeria. We understand and promote market based reforms that are democratic (participatory) and equitable (pro-poor).