The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Friday said the organisation was “deeply saddened by the continued suffering and loss of life” as a result of the war in Ukraine.
She said this in a statement on Wednesday, as the war which has shocked the world and threatened global stability entered its seventh day.
The WTO had hoped that war would be averted but that hope was dashed.
With the battle raging on and talks between Ukraine and Russia yet to yield results, the WTO is concerned about the implications.
“We are also concerned about the trade implications of the conflict, especially trade in agriculture and food products and the rise in energy prices and their effects on the impacted population,” Dr Okonjo-Iweala said.
The WTO is praying for “a peaceful and quick resolution” to the crisis.
On Friday, Dr Okonjo-Iweala warned about the “economic impacts” of the war in Ukraine, a major wheat exporter, saying it would hurt consumers around the world.
“There’s going to be a big impact with respect to wheat prices and prices of bread for ordinary people as well,” she said at a virtual event with IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala noted that Ukraine “is one of the largest wheat exporters of the world.”
Georgieva echoed her previous warnings about the “significant economic risk” of the conflict for the global recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, saying “the impact is going to go beyond Ukraine.”
She highlighted the added pressure on inflation which is likely to accelerate amid rising prices for energy and wheat.
Oil prices on Thursday briefly topped $100 for the first time since 2014. The United States and Europe slapped sanctions on Moscow, targeting the financial sector but largely sparing the oil and agriculture sectors for now in an effort to mitigate the impact on their own people.
The sanctions “add to the economic impact of this crisis, and will transmit primarily through energy prices, as well as grain prices, adding to what has been a growing concern of inflation and how it can be countered,” the IMF chief said.
The conflict adds to the “high uncertainty” about the global economy that also is reflected in financial markets, and undermines confidence in other emerging markets causing an exodus of capital at a time when those countries need more funding.
“We see outflows from emerging markets when we need exactly the opposite,” she said.
Georgieva, who is Bulgarian, said she had a personal connection to the crisis, as her brother is married to a Ukrainian and they are in a city near the border with Russia.
“I know right now it’s so difficult to see a pathway to peace, but peace must be pursued and we must find a way to bring that peace that people are so desperate for.”
“A country like Nigeria that has great and intelligent minds with positive reputations all over the world, the likes of Mrs Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, Mr Bode Augusto, Mr Segun Agbaje, Mr Fola Adeola, Alhaji Tunde Folawiyo, Mr Atedo Peterside, Mr Kola Adesina, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Mr Femi Otedola, Mr Mike Adenuga, Mr Akinwumi Adesina, Mr Herbert Wigwe and Mr Aig Imoukhuede who are boardroom Czars with a vast wealth of knowledge on entrepreneurship, why let Nigeria be run by others who lack such knowledge.
“An entrepreneur that can grow wealth, bear risk in such conditions found in Nigeria surely is suited to better the fortunes too of the nation,” the youths said.
They added that Nigeria will flourish under such a person, our economy will grow as he or she, is already an employer of labour, and will create employment on a level playing ground for businesses to grow.
See full statement by the youths below…
It is the norm, just a few months to the general elections on which the faith of producing the next president, and of course another set of new leaders is placed upon us, the drums of campaigns shall be beating to make the biggest music. Another election season and the whole country turns into an atmosphere of advertisement for different candidates from different political parties.
Fellow compatriots, for a better choice of a new leader, we need to trace back and understand our root as a country in other to avoid repeating mistakes made in the past.
At the point of exit for the colonial masters, the Sovereign entity known as Nigeria was placed into the hands of our founding fathers. The very hard-working civilians who fought to globally move the country forward, having it placed in organisations like the common wealth. A few years later, these founding fathers were ousted in a bloody military coup that caused the lives of so many, including some of the founding fathers on the bases of corruption, inequality in distribution of resources, and suffering of the masses. The military had their run, from one coup to another, but the status quo never got better.
The Shehu Shagari’s administration was a civilian regime that came in between military coups, probably the reason why he was himself thrown out of office by the same officers on similar accounts of corruption and suffering of the masses.
After the death of the former head of state Gen. Sani Abacha, we finally had the most peaceful transition of power that saw the return of democracy led by Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, a transition that will turn out to be Nigeria’s longest shot at democracy to date since its independence.
It was expected that things will get better, Nigeria was set to thrive on a peaceful ground, a safe breathing atmosphere with a lot of opportunities, promises and hopes for not only it’s masses but those of other African countries.
Unfortunately, Nigeria is still enslaved in the shackles of corruption, poor living condition for its masses, even faced with new set of challenges that were not found previously. What could be the problem? what have we done? where have we gotten it wrong? or are we just cursed like many Nigerians insinuate?
None of these things are true or even real. The truth of the matter is we lack in our previous leaders is a very important element that is key to the success of individuals amounting all together to the success of any nation that is keen to succeed which is ENTREPRENEURSHIP.
Marrying leadership with entrepreneurship has been established as idiosyncratic, thus laying a solid foundation of competency, vision, skills for firm and effective leadership. The knowledge and experience an entrepreneur acquires from business exposes him to noting how government affects the private sector, which is the power source of economic growth that propels improvements in living standards of citizens.
A country like Nigeria that has great and intelligent minds with positive reputations all over the world, the likes of Mrs Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, Mr Bode Augusto, Mr Segun Agbaje, Mr Fola Adeola, Alhaji Tunde Folawiyo, Mr Atedo Peterside, Mr Kola Adesina, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Mr Femi Otedola, Mr Mike Adenuga, Mr Akinwumi Adesina, Mr Herbert Wigwe and Mr Aig Imoukhuede who are boardroom Czars with a vast wealth of knowledge on entrepreneurship, why let Nigeria be run by others who lack such knowledge.
An entrepreneur that can grow wealth, bear risk in such conditions found in Nigeria surely is suited to better the fortunes too of the nation.
Nigeria will flourish under such a person, our economy will grow as he or she, is already an employer of labour, and will create employment on a level playing ground for businesses to grow.
The presence of entrepreneurs in politics will serve as mediators between individuals with economic ideas and the body of Government responsible for making and implementing such policies to have a harmonious outcome pushing the country further economically.
Dear Nigerians, please this time around let it not be about rice, spaghetti, detergents, wrapper, or mere 1 thousand or 2 thousand handed out to you. The right person will make it possible for you to earn more than enough to buy these things, and much more, but also the sense of pride and dignity for being able to stand on your own and provide for yourself and family.
Let it not be empty promises or the usual polarisation along religious and ethnic lines. Hunger and poverty know not your tribe or faith. Let’s give the private sector and those that have shown the true capacity to build something sustainable, that has impacted lives and communities a try.
Let your voice and vote speak about concerns for the economy because to have a permanent solution to the economic, security and political crises of this country, we must produce a candidate who has rich knowledge of entrepreneurship, greatly endowed with practical knowledge of the economy as equality begins with economic empowerment.
We are calling and pleading with the successful private sector players to join the 2023 presidential race, they need to stand up and be counted. Nigeria has given you much, we ask now that you come and be the stewards of our nation, not just a business. Come and rescue Nigeria from the shackle of poor leadership.
The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Iweala, has denied reports linking her to plans to run for Nigeria’s presidential seat in 2023.
Okonjo-Iweala, who was Nigeria’s former finance minister, faulted the reports which also claimed she is set to resign from her WTO position as part of plans to contest for the country’s number one post.
“I just got here. I am enjoying what I’m doing,” she told Bloomberg. “It is a very exciting job and I am trying to have some successes here.”
She described the rumours as “utterly ridiculous”, maintaining that she is focused on doing her job as the WTO chief and achieving some milestones with the organisation.
Her comment follows recent suggestions by trade officials in Geneva that the Nigerian would be leaving her post, months after she became the first woman and African to lead the WTO.
The WTO chief has been at the forefront of the push for COVID-19 vaccine equity.
She told President Muhammadu Buhari during a recent visit to Nigeria that she is persuading vaccine manufacturers to invest in Africa as the drive for COVID-19 vaccination continues globally.
“We have to scale up and scale out COVID-19 vaccine production, particularly in emerging markets and developing countries,” she was quoted in the WTO website as saying.
According to her, since it takes a lot to build new manufacturing facilities, boosting the production in the short term is “making the most of existing manufacturing capacity — finding existing sites and turning them around.”
Her drive for COVID-19 vaccine equity has also earned her accolades globally. In September, American media outlet Time Magazine listed her alongside US President, Joe Biden; Chinese President, Xi Jinping, and others, among the Most Influential People for 2021.
“As we face a constant barrage of vaccine misinformation, bureaucratic slowdowns across both government and industry, and the rise of variants that underscore the urgency of the situation, Okonjo-Iweala has shown us that to end the pandemic, we must work together to equip every nation with equitable vaccine access,” Prince Harry and Meghan wrote about her on the Time’s website.
Dr Iweala, since she resumed her new position, has been on a courtesy visit in the country.
On Tuesday she paid a visit to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Headquarters in Abuja and spoke on how Nigeria can exit recession and the need to embrace the digital economy.
The WTO DG who was received by a delegation led by CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said Nigeria has enough resources and opportunities to exit the recession.
“I think we have what it takes in the country, particularly our young people to do the necessary which is to move forward as to how we are going to create jobs and move this economy in the direction that would support our youths in the future.
“There are opportunities that can be used in improving trade so that our economy can climb out of this pandemic recession that we are in faster than would have been the case,” she said.
President Muhammadu Buhari Monday hosted in audience Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, newly appointed Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), telling her that despite the robust support Nigeria gave to her candidacy for the position, “You also earned it. We are happy you made it, but you earned it with your record of performance both at home and abroad.”
The President said Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was putting Nigeria more on the world map, “and I congratulate you, as well as the country. I know you will represent us so well.”
President Buhari lauded Nigerian women once again, pointing to key positions they hold like Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, and many others. He said the same way, the government would encourage the youths, “so that they can be ready for the challenges of the future.”
The new WTO DG thanked President Buhari for the pulsating support she received from her own country in the race for the position.
“You nominated me, you wrote hundreds of letters, called up hundreds of world leaders. Without your personal and direct intervention, it may not have worked. The people of Nigeria also supported me massively. The youths were wonderful, always encouraging, backing me up on social media.
“Mr President, the world recognizes what you have done. Since its establishment, only men have led the WTO. Now, a woman has emerged for the first time, and she’s a Nigerian. We are so honoured,” Dr Okonjo-Iweala said.
She apprised the President of the opportunities for Nigeria in the global organization, as well as the challenges, stressing that “WTO will do more to help Nigeria, but we need to add value to our products in order to trade more. We should exploit all the opportunities in front of us.”
She added that the support and leadership of President Buhari will help her a lot in her position as DG.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala assumed office on March 1, 2021, as the first female DG of the World Trade Organization.
The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Monday visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and appreciated the ministry and Nigerians in general for their support.
The newly appointed WTO DG who was received by delegates led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama lauded the Minister for his role in contributing to her success in her race for the WTO DG seat.
“You worked night and day along with the Ministry of Trade and Investment and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. You worked personally to make sure that this happens. I remember calling you so many nights with one complaint or the other or one demand or the other and you kept your cool and were always trying to sort it all out.
“In short, you were absolutely amazing and I want to thank you for your personal attention to this,” she said.
Okonjo-Iweala also appreciated young Nigerians who she said were always on social media cheering her on. According to her, this was a crucial encouragement in the ‘tough race’.
“I say it and I will not stop saying it – without all of you and without support from ordinary Nigerians, especially the young people who were always on social media all the time encouraging me, I wouldn’t have been able to make it because it was a very tough competition with eight of us at the start, over a period of six months – very grueling – so it needed a lot of encouragement.
“It’s a proud thing that Nigeria has been able to make it. I am honoured and humbled to have been selected,” Okonjo-Iweala said in her appreciation message.
Okonjo-Iweala’s visit to Nigeria comes about a month after she was confirmed as the Director-General of the global trade organisation.
As the first woman and first African to lead the international body, her term began on March 1 and would last until the next four years.
Okonjo-Iweala, 66, was nominated as Nigeria’s candidate to lead the WTO by President Muhammadu Buhari in June 2020.
She is a Nigerian-American economist and international development expert who has a 25-year career at the World Bank, scaling the ranks to the second top position of Managing Director, Operations.
The Cross River state governor, Professor Ben Ayade has congratulated former Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala on her confirmation as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, WTO.
A statement signed by Professor Ayade’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Christian Ita, described the new WTO DG as the “poster girl of unassailable attainments and a record-breaker who has not only shattered a glass-ceiling but has continually proved her mettle and brought honour to the country.
“We are extremely proud of one of our very best, our own dear Ngozi who has just emerged the first African, the first woman, and the first black Director-General of WTO.
“As the Managing-General of the World Bank, Finance Minister, Foreign Minister, and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. OKonjo-Iweala brilliantly distinguished herself to the applause of her countrymen and women and to the admiration of the world”.
Governor Ayade noted that the international community found her suitable for the exalted office of the WTO.
He expressed optimism that the state will benefit immensely from her new role.
“I have no doubt that her wealth of knowledge will be of huge benefit to Nigeria, particularly Cross River, and the world at large”, Ayade further said.
Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, says the world has entered a new epoch with the appointment of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Governor Wike, in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, said the appointment of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, a one-time Minister of Finance and Chairman of President Goodluck Jonathan Economic Team to lead the WTO, is a beacon of hope for Nigeria.
The Rivers State governor said he is confident that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, who has distinguished herself as a renowned economist and contributed to the economic successes of many nations, will usher in a new era in the WTO.
He stated the new Director-General of the WTO throughout her career both at the World Bank and as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, had consistently demonstrated an exceptional taste for transparency, and passion for equity.
“Having served in the Federal Executive Council with Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, I am confident that she will remain committed to her principles of transparency, accountability, and equity, which the world is yearning for.
“On behalf of the Government and people of Rivers State, I also take this opportunity to extend our heartfelt congratulations to you as a beacon of hope for our dear nation.
After nearly six months without a captain, the World Trade Organization looks set to appoint Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its first female and first African leader next week.
The global trade body announced Tuesday that it would hold a special meeting of its General Council on February 15 “to consider the appointment of the next WTO director-general”.
The announcement comes after US President Joe Biden’s administration last week offered its “strong support” to Okonjo-Iweala, marking yet another sharp split from his predecessor Donald Trump, who had blocked her nomination for months.
Key WTO ambassadors tapped Okonjo-Iweala back in October as the best pick to lead the organisation but Trump’s administration maintained its opposition to her appointment and said it backed her opponent, South Korea’s trade minister Yoo Myung-hee, instead.
Since the WTO makes decisions through consensus among all 164 member states, the US position left the process to replace Roberto Azevedo — who stepped down a year ahead of schedule last August — at a standstill.
Observers suggested that South Korea had long been under pressure from the United States — an ally that has 28,500 troops in the country to defend it from nuclear-armed North Korea — to keep Yoo in the race.
But Seoul suddenly announced last Friday that she was abandoning her bid, just hours before Washington announced its change of position.
With no further obstacles in her path, Okonjo-Iweala is expected to quickly be tapped for the director-general post at Monday’s meeting.
It remains unclear if she will be asked to take the reins immediately or if her term would start at a later date.
Once she does, she will have her hands full.
The crisis-wracked organisation is widely seen as needing reform.
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the WTO had grappled with stalled trade talks and struggled to curb trade tensions between the United States and China.
The WTO also faced relentless attacks from Washington under Trump, who, among other things, dealt a death-blow to its dispute settlement appeal system, which stopped working in late 2019.
Twice Nigeria’s finance minister and its first woman foreign minister, 66-year-old Okonjo-Iweala is seen as a trailblazer in her country.
A development economist by training with degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, she also spent a quarter of a century at the World Bank, rising to be managing director and running for the top role in 2012.
Nigeria is currently reaching out to all members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in its bid to ensure Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala becomes the next Director-General of the global trade body.
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Katagum, disclosed this in a statement on Friday.
She stated that the Federal Government was already in talks with the United States of America and South Korea to overcome the impasse.
Katagum noted that this was to persuade the countries, especially the U.S. to join the consensus in adopting the recommendation of the appointment of Dr Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, as WTO DG.
“We shall keep you updated on this issue and hope that, we would achieve the desired goal of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala securing appointment as the first African and the first female to head the WTO,” she said.
She added, “Nigeria wishes to express profound appreciation to all members of the WTO that have supported Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the post of WTO Director-General and would reach out to other countries to secure the consensus needed in the final decision on her appointment as the next Director-General of the WTO.”
Katagum, who chairs the Campaign Strategy Team for Nigeria’s DG-WTO candidate, hinted that the team held an emergency virtual meeting on Friday.
She explained that the meeting was to review and strategise on the way forward in the light of recent developments in the selection process for the appointment of the WTO chief.
The minister noted that the third and final round of consultations for the selection of the DG-WTO, which commenced in Geneva on October 19, 2020, was concluded on Tuesday.
She added that the Chair of the WTO General Council, Ambassador David Walker of New Zealand, with the facilitators of the selection process, as well as the Chair of the Dispute Settlement Body and the Chair of the Trade Policy Review Body (Troika), informed the WTO members that Dr Okonjo-Iweala secured overwhelming support of members, both in terms of numbers and geographical spread.
At the meeting of WTO Heads of Delegation in Geneva held on Wednesday, the Nigerian candidate was said to have emerged as the contender most likely to gain consensus as DG-WTO.
However, her appointment is expected to be adopted by consensus of all members, in line with WTO decision-making procedure at a Special General Council Meeting scheduled for November 9.
The U.S. had stated reservations on the outcome of the final round in view of the fact that its preference was still the candidate of South Korea.
It also said it would not join the consensus in selecting Dr Okonjo-Iweala as DG-WTO at the forthcoming Special General Council.
Ex-Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is excited about her progress so far in the race to become the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is optimistic of landing the job.
“Happy for the success & continued progress of our @wto DG bid,” she tweeted on her handle on Thursday evening.
“Very humbled to be declared the candidate with the largest, broadest support among members & most likely to attract consensus. We move on to the next step on Nov 9, despite hiccups. We’re keeping the positivity going!”
Happy for the success & continued progress of our @wto DG bid. Very humbled to be declared the candidate with the largest, broadest support among members & most likely to attract consensus. We move on to the next step on Nov 9, despite hiccups. We’re keeping the positivity going!
Key World Trade Organisation (WTO) ambassadors on Wednesday tapped Nigeria’s nominee, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as the best pick to lead the organization, but she was opposed by the United State of America (USA), which said it supported South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee instead.
The ‘troika’ of ambassadors heading the WTO’s three main branches determined after four months of consultations with member states that Okonjo-Iweala was the most likely to obtain the consensus needed to take the top job, WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell told reporters.
The initial pool of eight candidates for the WTO’s top post had been whittled down to just two over two previous rounds of consultations, with only Okonjo-Iweala and South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee still in the race.
The global trade body is thus set to be led by a woman for the first time whichever of the two final candidates succeeds in their bid to follow Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down as WTO director-general in August, a year ahead of schedule.
The troika, led by New Zealand’s Ambassador David Walker, concluded the third round of consultations on Tuesday.
Its decision marks an important step paving the way for Okonjo-Iweala to become both the first woman and the first African to head the organisation.
But the WTO’s 164 member states still need to determine whether they will support her before their next General Council meeting on November 9.
Washington already said it was opposed to her candidacy, casting doubt on whether she can obtain the necessary full backing from member states.
In a statement late Wednesday, the US Trade Representative’s office expressed support for Yoo, calling her “a bona fide trade expert who has distinguished herself during a 25-year career as a successful trade negotiator and trade policymaker.
Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala voiced confidence Friday in her quest to lead the crisis-wracked World Trade Organization after all of Africa backed her candidacy, vowing she would champion reform.
“I feel the wind behind my back,” she told a virtual press briefing after the 55-member African Union officially supported her over her sole remaining opponent, Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea.
The global trade body is set to be led by a woman for the first time whichever of the two candidates is successful in their bid to follow Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down as WTO director-general in August a year ahead of schedule.
Okonjo-Iweala, 66, who served as her country’s first female finance and foreign minister and has a 25-year career behind her as a development economist at the World Bank, said it would be good if WTO could also boast its first African leader.
“If that person is African and a woman, I think that is great. Because… neither an African nor a woman has led the organisation,” she said.
But at a time when the WTO is engulfed by multiple crises, she stressed that the new chief must above all be highly skilled in political and diplomatic negotiations, as well as at the managerial level.
“The WTO at this time with the challenges it confronts needs a very competent Director General who is able to have the political reach and stature to be able to do reforms and deal at very high levels,” she said.
“It is not only having those skills, but having them all meet in one person at this juncture when the WTO needs that.”
– ‘Reform candidate’ –
Even before the Covid-19 crisis hit, the WTO was already grappling with stalled trade talks and struggling to curb tensions between the United States and China.
The global trade body has also faced relentless attacks from Washington, which has crippled the WTO dispute settlement appeal system and threatened to leave the organisation altogether.
Okonjo-Iweala said she had broad experience in championing reform and was the right person to help put the WTO back on track.
“I am a reform candidate and I think the WTO needs the reform credentials and skills now.”
The initial pool of eight candidates for the WTO’s top post, which has been whittled down over two rounds of consultations, had included three Africans, and the AU had until now refrained from offering an official endorsement.
The third and final round of consultations seeking to establish consensus around one candidate is due to begin next week and end on October 27, with the announcement due in early November.
Okonjo-Iweala said Friday she was thrilled to learn that “all African countries are getting behind me.”
In addition, she said, a group of Caribbean and Pacific states had also said they would back her, bringing the number of countries officially endorsing her candidacy to 79.
She also said she felt “optimistic” about her support in Latin America, and said she felt she had gotten “very good traction and good support” in Asia so far.
The European Union was meanwhile due to announce its preference “soon”, she said.
“I feel quite confident that across the regions, we will be able to attract” support, Okonjo-Iweala added.