On assuming office on the 1st of March as Director-General of World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called on members of the team to do things in a unique way to results that will keep the WTO relevant.
She noted that the high expectations for her tenure can only be met if members of the WTO are willing to cooperate and reach agreements.
In her first remark, she thanked members for their support and kind wishes.
“Let me specially thank the four DDGs Messrs. Yonov Agah, Mr Karl Bruner, Mr Alan Wolff, and Mr Yi Xiaozhun for ably holding the fort since September. I know this was not easy. Let me also thank the management and staff of the Secretariat for their warm welcome, their enthusiasm and desire to see things done differently.” She stated.
The Director-General ‘acknowledged that the confidence members have put in her have made her humble. She, therefore, stated that she will bring all necessary skills to reform the organisation and as well, achieve a great result.
Pointing to accountability, the new DG said the approach to issues will have to change from debate and rounds of questions to making sure results are delivered. She said the WTO has to be more accountable to the people it has to serve which includes; the ordinary women, men and children to improve their standard of living, and create decent jobs for those who seek work.
Speaking on Covid 19, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala proposed that there needs to be a focus on poor countries that have not yet vaccinated a single person, noting that people are dying in poor countries.
“There is serious supply scarcity and some countries are outbidding COVAX and diverting supplies. The world has a normal capacity of production of 3.5billion doses of vaccines and we now seek to manufacture 10billion doses. This is just very difficult, so we must focus on working with companies to open up and license more viable manufacturing sites now in emerging markets and developing countries” she buttressed.
The WTO DG proposed to meet with members individually and in groups to brainstorm and map out how she can help in deliverables.