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Hope For New Momentum As Ngozi Takes WTO Reins

Ngozi Okonjoi Wara held the reins of the World Trade Organization on a difficult to-do list on Monday, including tackling the global economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

Former Nigerian Finance Minister, the first woman to lead the WTO, and the first African Foreign Minister also wants to begin long-term trade negotiations.

“I’m at one of the most important institutions in the world and I have a lot to do,” she told journalists when she arrived on her first day of work in Geneva.

“I feel ready to go.”





Former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala took command after the WTO drifted for seven months after the sudden resignation of Brazilian career diplomat Roberto Azevedo.
AFP / Bastien INZAURRALDE

A development economist, known as Dr. Ngozi, took the lead of the World Trade Organization and began to move steadily as it began its annual meeting to discuss various pressing issues.

A major issue discussed at the two-day meeting is the controversy over the WTO’s waiver of intellectual property rights to the Covid-19 vaccine.



The WTO faces requests from several countries to waive its intellectual property rights to the Covid-19 vaccine.


The WTO faces requests from several countries to waive its intellectual property rights to the Covid-19 vaccine.
AFP / NOAH SEELAM

The delegation was at least able to agree on a date for the WTO’s next ministerial meeting, which was scheduled last year but was postponed due to a pandemic. It will be held in Geneva from November 29th.

Diplomats are also discussing ways to bring to life international negotiations on fishery subsidies that have been blocked for 20 years. This is the issue that Ngozi described as “one of my top priorities.”

“Twenty years is enough,” she said, standing next to a fish ice sculpture launched in front of WTO headquarters.

“Overfishing, overcapacity and illegal fishing are detrimental to sustainability.”



Profile of Ngozi Okonjoi Wara of Nigeria, who became the first African and female head of the World Trade Organization on March 1.


Profile of Ngozi Okonjoi Wara of Nigeria, who became the first African and female head of the World Trade Organization on March 1.
AFP / Kenan AUGEARD

Goji will take command after the WTO has drifted for six months after Brazilian career diplomat Roberto Azevedo retired a year earlier than planned in August last year.

Goji became a clear favorite last November, but her appointment was postponed by former US President Donald Trump, who blocked her nomination in support of a South Korean candidate.

The arrival of Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, gave her the support of the consensus needed to end the deadlock.

After spending 25 years at the World Bank, Goji was finally anointed by 164 members of the WTO on February 15.



Ngozi Okonjoi Wara is the first woman to lead the WTO and the first African.


Ngozi Okonjoi Wara is the first woman to lead the WTO and the first African.
POOL / Fabrice COFFRINI

The fact that the WTO is led by African women has been welcomed by many as a lagging progress.

Meanwhile, Goji has to deal with what is described as a “sexist and racist” reaction to employment, and Swiss newspapers as grandmothers about her vocational qualifications in the headline about her appointment. After emphasizing his position, he was forced to apologize.

“We need to point out when this behavior happens,” Goji said in a tweet on Monday, blaming “the stereotypes women face when they are in a leadership position.”

Trade diplomats point out Goji’s extensive experience and broad skill set, and observers say she wants to inject the energy she needs into the WTO.

“The WTO is too important to allow it to slow down, paralyze and moribund,” she told AFP the day after her nomination last month.

However, some emphasize that there is little room for dramatic changes only if the WTO’s decisions are made by Member States and an agreement can be reached.

One of the biggest issues facing the ongoing General Council is a call led by India and South Africa to waive the intellectual property rights of the Covid-19 vaccine. This concept was severely rejected by the pharmaceutical giants and their host countries.

To avoid the first day line, Ngozi seeks flexibility and encourages voluntary licensing agreements by the SII plant to produce the pharmaceutical giant Covid-19 vaccine, as agreed between AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India. Did.

Meanwhile, the Ottawa Group, which brings together 12 countries, including the EU and Brazil, Canada and Switzerland, promises not to disrupt the flow of medicines during a pandemic and demands that tariffs on what is considered essential be eliminated. ..

The Appellate Body, sometimes referred to as the Supreme Court, stopped in 2019 after years of relentless opposition from the United States.

The United States, along with European countries and Canada, also wants to review the WTO, believing that it is not properly responding to the trade distortions caused by China.



Hope For New Momentum As Ngozi Takes WTO Reins Source link Hope For New Momentum As Ngozi Takes WTO Reins

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