WTO pledges better export regime for medical supplies, vaccines
Dangote, others seek help on nation’s trade deficit via AFCTA
Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has pledged to work with member-nations in reducing export restrictions on medical supplies and vaccines.
Speaking when she led a delegation to the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 yesterday in Abuja, Okonjo-Iweala admitted that in this era of global pandemic, the economy couldn’t be boosted until the health aspect is taken care of.
She said: “Interestingly, trade is very instrumental in access to medical supplies and equipment. Part of the challenges we’ve had in this pandemic is that some of our member-countries have put export restrictions on movement of medical supplies, equipment and even supplies to make vaccines.
“We had a meeting with manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines a couple of days ago in Geneva and their representative said that it takes 280 components to manufacture their vaccine. And it is in a supply chain that involves 19 countries. So, the supply chains for most of our medical products are global.
“So, when a country puts export restrictions on one, it means that you slow (down) production everywhere. That’s where the WTO comes in. We have certain rules that members should abide by, with respect to these restrictions.”
The Nigeria’s ex-finance minister, who submitted that the global body played a major role in ensuring seamless circulation of medical supplies and vaccines, added: “And you remember at the beginning of the pandemic, there were many countries that blocked exports. So, we have managed to reduce this. There were 91 countries at the beginning, which had restrictions and prohibitions on export of medical supplies and equipment. We are now down to 59.”
Okonjo-Iweala said the delegation was in Nigeria to see what they could do to support the country.
In his remarks, the PTF Chairman and Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, appealed to the DG to prioritise succour for nations facing budget, infrastructure and housing deficits.
He stressed the need for trade policies that would enable developing economies compete favourably in the world market.
Mustapha applauded the DG’s efforts in making sure that Nigeria got its own vaccines.
MEANWHILE, the Organised Private Sector (OPS) and other stakeholders are soliciting assistance of the Geneva, Switzerland-based organisation in reducing Nigeria’s trade deficit in global market through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA).
During an interactive session yesterday with the WTO DG in Abuja, Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, pledged the readiness of the private sector to partner with the global body in the areas of technical assistance and value addition to actualise the objectives of the continental trade pact.
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