The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has hinted on how Nigeria can benefit from the office of her citizen, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as the new Director General (DG) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The LCCI noted that Nigeria needs to build capacity for the international competitiveness of its products and services so as to benefit from the WTO.
The industry in a statement felicitated with Nigeria on the appointment of Okonjo-Iweala as the Director-General of WTO.
The statement was signed and made available by the Director-General, LCCI, Muda Yusuf, on Monday, February 15.
Yusuf said: “While the emergence of Okonjo-Iweala as the new WTO Director-General is very gratifying and calls for celebration, there is a need to manage expectations around the outcomes for the Nigerian economy, given the numerous productivity and competitiveness issues the country is grappling with.
“Ultimately, these are the factors that would determine the benefits that would accrue to the economy from global trade.”
“Also imperative is the need to address trade facilitation issues, especially around port processes, ports infrastructures, international trade documentation, foreign exchange policies, trade policies and industrial policies. We need to promote local value addition and backward integration to strengthen competitiveness of our domestic industries.
“We must undertake reforms of our tariff policy in accordance with the principles of comparative advantage, which would enable the country to optimise opportunities in the global trade arena and enhance the citizens’ welfare.”
He added that it is critical to develop an African Continental Free Trade Area strategy that would enable the country to leverage trade opportunities both continentally and globally.
According to him, “There is a need to improve on our strategy in managing the coronavirus pandemic ranging from ensuring compliance to safety protocols to vaccine procurement and distribution.”
The LCCI DG also noted that Okonjo-Iweala’s emergence came at a time when the global trading system was faced with numerous challenges, including supply chain disruptions precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic, rising protectionism and unilateralism, growing economic nationalism, and imposition of trade restrictions covering substantial amount of international trade, among others.
He said: “Africa has peculiar challenges in the global trade arena. The continent is deeply integrated into the global supply chain and this underscores the low participation level of African economies in international trade.”