Okonjo-Iweala urges WTO to elect DG on basis of Merit

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, managing director at the World Bank, participates in a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative, in New York, September 23, 2009. About 1,200 participants including heads of state, business leaders, humanitarians and celebrities will attend the fifth annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) which started on Tuesday. REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES POLITICS BUSINESS)

By Habiba Broger
Geneva, July 15, 2020 Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Wednesday in Geneva stressed the need for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to elect a credible candidate, based on merit, for the position of Director General.

Okonjo-Iweala, who is among the eight candidates vying for the position, stated this while answering questions from newsmen at a press conference held shortly after her presentation to the WTO General Council.

“Choosing a Director General for WTO should be on merit. The best person should be chosen to lead an institution that’s having challenges.

“If it happens to be a woman, great. If it happens to be an African, its also great. It should be based on merit,” she said, while extolling the qualities which makes her well suited for the job.

“The WTO needs leadership and I’m someone with a strong managerial capability with the ability to forge consensus and reforms.

“These bundles of qualities in addition to my leadership quality is what I’m bringing to the WTO,” she added.

Okonjo-Iweala also spoke on various issues ranging from trade implication of COVID-19, challenges to Micro Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMSE), as well as e-Commerce.

According to her, e-Commerce and digital Economy are vital forms of trade, especially in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

She emphasised the need to address the challenge of digital divide in developing and least developed nations – where infrastructure remained a major impediment to such form of trade.

Similarly, she emphasised the need to strengthen MSMSE – a vital part of global economy which was adversely affected by the pandemic.

In the same vein, the former Nigeria’s finance minister, also said that in tackling COVID-19, if elected as Director-General, she would ensure that vaccines were accessible to poorer countries.

“When vaccine becomes available, there will be allocation criteria that will ensure that it is accessible to all,” she stressed, while noting that she would bring her experience as Chair of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance board, to bear.

Other issues addressed by Okonjo-Iweala include fostering relations among member countries to rebuild trust on restoring consensus decision making to strengthen the WTO.

Alongside Okonjo-Iweala are candidates from Mexico, Egypt, Moldova, Republic of Korea, Kenya, UK and Saudi Arabia vying for the WTO Director General seat.

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