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Okonjo-Iweala: Time to fix WTO

Nigeria’s candidate to head the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, yesterday urged U.S. President, Donald Trump, or his successor not to leave the Geneva-based body, saying reforms were possible. The U.S. has been a regular critic of the WTO and is along with other members is urging reforms to its 25-year-old global trade rule book. It has also blocked appointments to its top appeals court, paralysing its functions. A former Managing Director of the World Bank, 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. “Surely it’s not the time now to leave a WTO that matters. We need an institution that can promote a rules-based system. Remember the trade wars of the past — we don’t want that,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told a news briefing at the WTO Headquarters when asked for her message to the current U.S. President or any future one. She said: “I would say to the president that the WTO delivered for all countries, including the United States in the past.

It is because of the multilateral rules-based trading system that we have had prosperity and lifting of millions out of poverty, and it’s been shared prosperity. We could do it again. I would say to him or him that where the trading system has failed, we need to fix it so that it can be more inclusive, it can benefit more people. “We want peace, security, and stability. That is why the WTO is needed, with its ability to arbitrate disputes within members. Don’t leave now, let’s try to fix what needs fixing, and if we didn’t have the WTO, we would have to invent it. That is what I would say to him.”

 

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