Okonjo-Iweala Negotiates Better Trade Deal For Nigeria

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The director general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has disclosed the efforts she is making to push for better trade negotiations for Nigeria and other African countries at the world body in order to attract investment and add value to the goods produced in the country.

Okonjo-Iweala said this while participating virtually in the 2021 National Diaspora Day celebration tagged: ‘Diaspora Integration for National Peace and Development’ organised by the Nigerians In the Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) in Abuja yesterday to mark the achievements of Nigerians in the Diaspora.

She stressed that the efforts also include building the capacity of the SMEs in Nigeria to make their goods competitive at the international market.
The former minister of finance noted that one of the things that attracted her at the WTO is to use trade to improve the Nigerian economy especially in this period that the country is making efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One of the things I am thinking about now is how the WTO will help support trade and investment in the country. How we can help with the actualisation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, as the largest population and the largest market.

“In order for us to benefit more from trade, we have to add value to our own products and so, we have an investment facilitation agreement here at the WTO that we are negotiating. Once we do that, it is something that can create a better environment to attract investment.

“That investment would now birth more industries, manufacturing, keeping jobs at home and then with trade with the other countries; this is also something that is very important,” she said.

She lamented the shortage of vaccines to Africa, stressing that while the volume of the vaccines is increasing in the developed countries, African countries continue to see less of the vaccines.

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said however, that she was working with the major manufacturers of the vaccines to shift the production to Africa.

“We had a conference with manufacturers of vaccines, all the chief executive officers of the major companies were there; from Moderna to Pfizer to AstraZeneca, J& J; the Chinese ones also. And the idea is supporting them to invest in Africa, including Nigeria,” she said.

Minister of state foreign affairs, Zubairu Dada, in his keynote address, said the celebration is also a networking event to celebrate the achievement of Nigerians in the Diaspora, who have distinguished themselves in diverse fields and for their “gargantuan contributions to the peace and development of Nigeria.”

He assured that the federal government on its part would constantly aim to create an enabling environment by adopting policies tailored to support citizens in Diaspora to ensure their safety and wellbeing.

Chairman of NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in her opening remarks, called on Nigerians in the Diaspora to deploy more energy and talents and expertise especially their cutting-edge technology to boost the Nigerian economy beyond the yearly remittances of about $25 billion. She added that the federal government has unveiled the National Diaspora Policy to harness the resources of the Diasporans.

The vision, mission and goal of the policy she said is “to effectively promote and harness the capacity and resources of Nigerians in the Diaspora for the growth and the development of the nation, empower Nigerians in the Diaspora as change agents for the development of Nigeria through promoting a framework for them to maximise their potential in capital, knowledge and networks and to constructive engagement of Nigerians in the Diaspora for sustainable national development.”

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