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Okonjo-Iweala rolls out agenda as WTO new chief

Newly-appointed Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and former Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who was Monday announced by the world body as the new chief of the international agency has averred that “Deep reforms that will get the WTO back to its feet is going to be her immediate task when she on assumes office, March 1, 2021.

Addressing the media shortly after her confirmation of for the top job of the 162-member, 25-year-old outfit, she said her first step in the getting the global organisation give a jolt in the arm to the global economy, would also include dealing with the COVID-19 menace. She said this on Monday while reacting to her appointment, which takes effect from March 1, 2021.

“It feels exciting and it feels daunting at the same time. I look forward to the challenge … deep reforms are needed to rebrand and reposition the organization,” she was quoted to have told Christiane Amanpour in an interview, promising also to ramp up global efforts to combat Covid-19 as a priority.

“One of … top priorities that I have, that I’m passionate about, is how can trade and the WTO play a stronger role in bringing solutions to the Covid-19 pandemic, both on the health side but also on the economic side,” adding that while economic recovery was reliant on trade, solving public health challenges also required “good trade.”

The former Nigerian Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy (MOFCME), while expressing willingness to make the WTO stronger, and ensuring that it adapted to the “realities of today,” said: “I am honoured to have been selected by WTO members as WTO Director-General,” said Dr Okonjo-Iweala.

“A strong WTO is vital if we are to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. I look forward to working with members to shape and implement the policy responses we need to get the global economy going again. Our organization faces a great many challenges but working together we can collectively make the WTO stronger, more agile and better adapted to the realities of today.”