WTO DG, Okonjo-Iweala concludes official visit to Nigeria

The Director General of the World Trade Organisation, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has concluded her official visit to Nigeria.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala on Saturday, arrived in Nigeria on a three-day working visit.

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On the final day of her three-day visit to Nigeria, Dr Okonjo-Iweala met with women entrepreneurs and representatives of small businesses to discuss the challenges facing these groups and the role the WTO can play to help them benefit from trade. Earlier in the week,

She met with President Muhammadu Buhari, the Vice President, senior members of the government including the Minister and Minister of State on Trade, Industry and Investment, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Women Affairs, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, business leaders and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

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WTO DG, Okonjo-Iweala concludes official visit to Nigeria
Director-General concludes successful official visit to Nigeria

Speaking during her meeting with Nigerian captains of industry on 16 March, the Director-General praised Nigeria’s efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and urged the country to build on this success.

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She emphasized the importance of increasing vaccine production, ensuring equitable distribution and making sure that medical goods such as vaccines can cross borders seamlessly.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala underlined the role that trade can play in helping Nigeria’s economy diversify and move from oil dependency towards a modernized and low-carbon economy. Tapping into external demand can help pull people out of low-productivity activities and into more tradable goods and services, she said.

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The DG emphasized Nigeria’s success in the hospitality, retail, finance, entertainment and app development sectors as examples of how to tap into the endless opportunities digital trade can offer to both small and larger firms. Connecting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), and especially women-owned businesses, to regional and international market opportunities is key. More people will then benefit from trade, raising living standards and creating jobs, she said. The WTO provides the underpinning for open and predictable global trade.

In a meeting with women entrepreneurs and representatives of MSMEs on 17 March, DG Okonjo-Iweala stressed the role of women and small businesses in the economy and the need for additional support for their efforts to thrive commercially. The challenges facing women and MSMEs have been worsened by the pandemic, she said. “Lowering the obstacles for businesses of all sizes, and especially women-owned businesses, to participate in international trade would help build back a better economy for everyone after this crisis.”

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Okonjo-Iweala resumed at the Geneva-based WTO on March 1, 2021, breaking a 26-year record by becoming the first female and first African director-general of the global trade and dispute settlement body.

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