How Nigeria Can Benefit From Okonjo-Iweala’s Emergence As WTO DG- Idika Kalu

A former Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Kalu Idika Kalu has said that Nigeria and other African countries can only benefit from the Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala led World Trade Organisation if the right policies are put in place at the country level.

The ex-minister said on Monday on Arise TV News that effective policies are the starting point, adding that trade negotiations would help push out the products at best term for the players.

The 81-year old ex- finance minister’s comment follows expectations that the WTO will name Nigeria’s former Finance Minister and Chair Board of Gavi as the new Director- General of the WTO on Monday.

Okonjo-Iweala will be the first African and first woman to lead the WTO when announced by the member countries.

South Korea Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, who was Okonjo-Iweala’s challenger, had stepped down from the race, while the Joe Biden led administration had endorsed the Nigerian.

Arguments surrounding Okonjo-Iweala’s emergence suggest that the Nigerian economy would be opened for better trade negotiations with other regions.

But Kalu, who was twice Nigeria’s Finance Minister said the WTO under Okonjo-Iweala would be more beneficial if countries make efficient policies that would facilitate local production.

He said, “Her (Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala) position is administrative. The real decisions are usually taken at the ministerial conference level. But as we all know, whether you are African or European or what have you, to have your own person at the key position where things are organised , agenda is decided, where the contacts can focus, it should give Africa an additional chance to be a major player.

“Right now we have not been. I want to emphasize that the issue doesn’t start from trade negotiations; the issue goes back to the efficiency of decision making in various countries, in various regions, the efficiency of production, the efficiency of transportation, packaging and what have you.”

Kalu who admitted that the ex- World Bank Managing Director is well trained and has international trade and multilateral experience said the continent will be inexcusable if it fails to improve trade relations under her watch.

“We have to now make sure our internal policies at those levels I have mentioned with the regions, within the various countries that are now carried at a bilateral level for them to now have more significance with Dr Okonjo-Iweala at the helm of the WTO administration. We also have no excuse not to do better than we have done in the past.

“For instance in Nigeria, you know that in order to make the most of this we have to sort out the issue of rampant insecurity. If you don’t have security, people cannot invest. If people don’t invest, they don’t produce.

“So, no matter what WTO is doing, you find out that you are not really able to deliver the substance for the negotiations to sell more to Latin America, to sell more to Europe and to sell more to Oceania and more.”