Opportunities, benefits from Okonjo-Iweala-led WTO – LCCI

DIRECTOR OF THE LAGOS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY (LCCI), Dr MUDA YUSUF

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has highlighted steps Nigeria needs to take in order to fully take advantage of the opportunities offered by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) under the leadership of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The LCCI in a statement on Monday February 15, 2021, felicitated with Nigeria on the appointment of Okonjo-Iweala as the Director-General of WTO.

The Director-General, LCCI, Dr Muda Yusuf, said, “While the emergence of Dr Okonjo-Iweala as the new WTO Director-General is very gratifying and calls for celebration, there is a need to manage expectations around the outcomes for the Nigerian economy, given the numerous productivity and competitiveness issues the country is grappling with.

“Ultimately, these are the factors that would determine the benefits that would accrue to the economy from global trade.”

According to him, Nigeria needs to build capacity for international competitiveness of its products and services so as to benefit from the WTO.

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He said, “Also imperative is the need to address trade facilitation issues, especially around port processes, ports infrastructures, international trade documentation, foreign exchange policies, trade policies and industrial policies. We need to promote local value addition and backward integration to strengthen competitiveness of our domestic industries.

“We must undertake reforms of our tariff policy in accordance with the principles of comparative advantage, which would enable the country to optimise opportunities in the global trade arena and enhance the citizens’ welfare.”

According to Yusuf, it is critical to develop an African Continental Free Trade Area strategy that would enable the country to leverage trade opportunities both continentally and globally.

“There is a need to improve on our strategy in managing the coronavirus pandemic ranging from ensuring compliance to safety protocols to vaccine procurement and distribution,” he said.

The LCCI DG said Okonjo-Iweala’s emergence came at a time when the global trading system was faced with numerous challenges, including supply chain disruptions precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic, rising protectionism and unilateralism, growing economic nationalism, and imposition of trade restrictions covering substantial amount of international trade, among others.

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“Africa has peculiar challenges in the global trade arena. The continent is deeply integrated into the global supply chain and this underscores the low participation level of African economies in international trade,” he said.

According to him, it is very pertinent for African economies to build capacity within the continent in order to take advantage of the opportunities in global trade.

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