Okonjo-Iweala WTO needs rebooting to meet 21st century needs
World Trade Organisation, WTO Director-General nominee has described the global trade body as a toothless bulldog that needs an urgent redirection to serve its true purpose of fostering sustainable global trade.
In an opinion article title: “Reviving the WTO” and published on UK based Project Syndicate, Okonjo-Iweala, who was nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari earlier this week to represent Nigeria said “the World Trade Organization is in the news mostly for the wrong reasons nowadays. Many people regard it as an ineffective policeman of an outdated rulebook that is unsuited for the challenges of the twenty-first-century global economy.”
While acknowledging that the WTO has an irreplaceable role to play in transforming countries’ economic prospects and the lives of people around the world, she regretted that things have not progressed as expected when the organisation came into force decades ago, a fact she says makes its decline inevitable.
“Whoever Azevêdo’s successor is will face a major challenge. Since its establishment in 1995, the WTO has failed to conclude a single trade-negotiation round of global trade talks, thus missing an opportunity to deliver mutual benefits for its members. The Doha Development Round, which began in November 2001, was supposed to be concluded by January 2005.
“Fifteen years later, WTO members are still debating whether the Doha process should continue. Some think it has been overtaken by events, while others want to pursue further negotiations.
“The WTO has so far delivered disappointingly few other notable agreements as well, apart from the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which entered into force in February 2017, and the 2015 decision to eliminate all forms of agricultural export subsidies. Meanwhile, some of its members have worked together on a raft of much broader regional trade deals that cover pressing issues such as the digital economy, investment, competition, the environment, and climate change,” Okonjo-Iweala said.
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