How trade can hasten Nigeria’s economic recovery, by Okonjo-Iweala
• Puts nation’s global, continental stakes at 0.33, 19 per cents
• Assures trade liberalisation won’t hurt economic diversification
• Ahmed wants WTO to declare gas resources as transition energy
Director-General of World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, has situated the centrality of trade in Nigeria’s quick economic recovery if the populous black nation could add more value to its products and improve infrastructure for competitiveness.
She urged the country to step up action on the agricultural value chain, information technology, fisheries among others, noting sadly, that Nigeria’s stakes in global and continental were 0.33 and 19 per cents.
Describing the statistics as a small fraction of what the country could achieve during separate courtesy visits to President Muhammadu Buhari; Ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; Industry Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo; and Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; yesterday in Abuja, the WTO DG noted:
“Nigeria ranks 103 out of 167 countries in logistics and that means we have a long way to go. For me, that is a potential area we can invest to improve our logistics so we can take advantage of trade within the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA).”
Okonjo-Iweala continued: “We have difficulty and challenges with our economy. We have to move fast. We have potential to do so much better, and trade is a very strong part of that story. But I am glad that in world trade, Nigeria is active in the area of agriculture and joint statement initiatives.”
Fielding questions from newsmen after the presidential parley, the former coordinating minister for the economy dismissed fears that embracing the free trade policy of the global body would harm Nigeria’s economic diversification drive.
She stated that special and differential treatment could be applied temporarily to prevent vulnerable countries from collapsing under competition.
She added that duties could be applied on imports to prevent the country from being a dumping ground.
The World Bank ex-Managing Director pledged that WTO would work with the giant of Africa to harness its resources through capacity building and technical assistance with a view to unlocking some of the bottlenecks confronting the country.
While expressing gratitude to Nigeria for seeing to her emergence, she pleaded that the support is robustly sustained in her quest to reinvent the global agency, which according to her, “faces many challenges and also needs its own reforms to deliver results, as the organisation has not delivered a multilateral round of negotiations in quite a number of years.”
She said the WTO would also support women entrepreneurs through its International Trade Centre by training and helping them access the international market.
Okonjo-Iweala added that the government of Barbados was desirous of strengthening ties with Nigeria, pointing out that there was no better time to do so.
In his remarks, Adebayo intimated to the visitor of the country’s expectations regarding ongoing negotiations and discussions.
Also speaking, Ahmed implored the Geneva, Switzerland-based organisation to declare gas resources as transition energy, stating that Nigeria’s share of climate change pollution was minute.
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