Wednesday March 17, 2021 / 11:03 AM / by Innocent Odoh of Leadership Newspaper / Header Image
Credit: Twitter; @GeoffreyOnyeama
Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said that Nigeria can benefit from the foremost organisation by encouraging and pushing more trade as well as adding value to its products and exports more that will attract the rest of the world.
The Former Nigeria's Minister of Finance, who assumed the position of the Director General of WTO on March 1, 2021, said this when she paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama in Abuja yesterday, stressing that WTO will support Nigeria with capacity building and technical assistance to improve the quality of products that the nation exports.
She said "Nigeria stands to benefit by encouraging and pushing more trade, becoming a bigger part of the multilateral trading system, and to do that Nigeria has to produce more, add value to its products and export more. Right now Nigeria has 0.3% of world trade and 19% of Africa's trade. You could see that as very small but you could also turn it around and see it as a big opportunity to make use of what has happened to the Africa Continental Free Trade (ACFTA.)
"So, WTO will support Nigeria with capacity building and technical assistance to improve the quality of the products that we export, we will work with entrepreneurs and producers to make that happen so that others can access other markets particularly since we need to diversify away from oil and process agricultural products and this needs a lot of care. So, we hope to be able to provide that directly."
She also assured that the WTO is going to work with other organizations that have access to more finance, such as the World Bank, the AfDB, the Asia Investment and Infrastructure Bank (AIIB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to help Nigeria solve some of the deficits with respect to infrastructure and other areas as well as the regulatory framework for some of the trade areas in order strengthen Nigeria for bigger and larger trade particularly in the African continent.
Okonjo-Iweala, who is the first African to become the Director General of the WTO, assured financial support to Nigerian and African women through the International Trade Centre that has the capacity to train women entrepreneurs and help them access international markets in collaboration with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council.
"A lot of women already run businesses and they want to access markets. But one of the things they complain about is the quality of their products and access to marketing and how they can sell. So, those two things the WTO actually has capacity to be able to assist them. And we have already done something. We started with women and men who produce share butter and worked with a cooperative and we have been able to assist them to increase their production and meet their quality requirements to use share butter for cosmetics for 200 metric tons and others for 500 metric tons. So, that is a specific example of what we can do working with women entrepreneurs.
"We would like to see the same thing with women in the fashion industry, there is a huge demand for Nigerian products, and African wears and fashion that we are so good at, yet we have not crystallized that industry in such a way that we can export to the rest of Africa. So, with this AFCTA, we will be working with women in that industry to see how we can help you systematize and standardize your products and be able to sell more.
"We are also negotiating several agreements on e-commerce and the rules of trade to ensure a level playing field for the multilateral trading system and you know the technology platform you see in e-commerce is very important for our young people. So, we need to assure that they have all the means to be able to access this," she added.
Earlier in his remarks, Onyeama, lauded Okonjo-Iweala, for being the first woman and first African to become the Director General of the WTO, stressing that she made Nigeria proud by attaining the position with hard work, diligence and competence.