Okonjo-Iweala urges US not to leave WTO as APC Govs Forum Chairman canvasses support for her

Okonjo-Iweala has urged U.S. President Donald Trump, or his successor, not to leave the Geneva-based body in a press briefing saying that reforms were possible. “Don’t leave now: let’s fix what needs fixing,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said in response to a question about her message to the current president or any future U.S. president. Okonjo-Iweala is one of eight candidates competing to become the trade watchdog’s next leader and has been taking questions from the WTO’s 164 members in Geneva this week.

Meanwhile the Progressive Governors’ Forum PGF Chairman, and Governor of Kebbi state, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu has called on member countries of the World Trade Organization WTO to support Nigeria’s candidate for election into the office of the Director General, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. In a statement, Bagudu said the main objective of establishing the World Trade Organization is to create a trading system that is equitable and with least distortions. He said “Regrettably, while being an improvement on the Agreement on Trade and Tariffs GATT, the WTO is yet to deliver in achieving the objectives. Worst still is that it is perceived as impotent. The exit of UK from EU and the brickbat between the US and China is illustrative of the difficulties with bilateral trade agreements talk more of a global one. The failure of the WTO to reach an agreement on agriculture, for example is punitive to all of Africa”.

According to Gov. Bagudu, the literal freezing of world trade occasioned by the Coronavirus Pandemic serves as a stark warning that the world needs to have a better trade system. “Whoever imagined that one country can ‘seize’ medical supplies going to other countries? Fixing the global trading system is one of the most important challenges of our time and doing so shall contribute to global prosperity more than any agreement. In so doing poverty shall be reduced and global prosperity shall be more equitably shared. Reforming the World Trade Organization is at the heart of any of such quest, and thus the choice of the next leader of the Organization matters. In nominating our own Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, President Buhari is not just presenting a Nigerian Candidate but is presenting to the world one of its best, albeit from Nigeria, and one who is eminently qualified to lead the task of fixing the world trading system. An economist, international development expert and a global public servant, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is one candidate that comes with all the experiences and expertise required to reposition the WTO. Both President Buhari and Dr. Okonjo-Iweala deserve commendation for giving the world the opportunity towards correcting the distortions in the world trading system.

“It will be recalled that last year, President Buhari signed the African Free Trade Agreement which holds a lot of promise for Nigeria. Getting it right at the World Trade Organization shall hasten the goals of Africa in the global arena. With Dr. Okonjo-Iweala who is cut out for the job given her background, her achievements, her world view, who promotes the belief that a trading system can work for the benefit all, and truly that is what the world needs, all nations and peoples committed to the promotion of equitable trading system should support her emergence as the Director-General of WTO.

“As someone who practised development economics at the World Bank, rising to the top and having served twice as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, where she struggled with budget sizes below what the country’s potential demands and served two Presidents, who but apart from being of the same Party, are opposites; she however was quite remarkable in serving both and providing the needed leadership for Nigeria’s economic policy. She sits on the board of the Gloval Alliance of Vaccines in Africa, which of recent was exposed to the fragility of the global trading system in securing and supporting countries which supplies support to COVID-19 response. Her experience in these fields equips her with the creative and modern perspectives that are required in navigating the uncertainties that will come in the post Covid-19 world”, Bagudu stated.

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