Six Aspects New WTO DG Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Wants to Address in 6 months


Nigeria’s former Finance minister Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was Thursday appointed Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

This is the first time a female official is appointed to head the powerful organisation. Okonjo-Iweala describes the trade as “a mission and a passion.”

In an interview with Josephine Mahachi at Live Chat with Josey three months ago, Okonjo-Iweala said the WTO needed reforms noting that the first six months in office would be difficult.

She added that the WTO rule book needed to be redrafted to complement the 21st century.

“In the first six, obviously there are many challenges confronting the organization. Everybody knows it that the WTO is going through a rough time. I will be looking to see what are the critical reforms that members can subscribe to that will be able to do.

“Either reforms to the dispute settlement system or updating the rule book of the WTO which will take time but it is something you can start to make it conform to the 21st-century issues.

“Things that deal with E-commerce, the digital economy, green economy, secular economy, how do we Update the rule book, how do we return WTO to the founding principles, principles of non-discrimination, predictability, and stability of the world trade system.

“How do we restore the balance of rights and responsibilities for all members.

“There are issues of transparency and notification which need some capacity building for some countries.

“I will also be looking to the next ministerial, that will happen in 2021. What are the key bits of negotiation that we need to carry forward that we can get members’ consent around so that we can wrap up some agreements? Those will be the critical issues I will be looking at,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

Okonjo-Iweala, has had two spells as Nigerian Finance minister and a short stint as foreign minister.

She also worked with the World Bank and is currently chair of the board of the international vaccines alliance, Gavi.

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