WTO must look into the digital economy: Okonjo-Iweala

Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, says the WTO must look into the digital economy.

The former Nigerian Finance Minister and economist received unanimous backing on Monday to become the first woman and first African Director-General of the WTO.

Addressing the media from Geneva, Dr Okonjo-Iweala says, “We have the issue of the dispute settlements system, which people call the jewel of the crown in the WTO, there is no point in agreeing in more rules, where the only place in the world, where countries can bring trade disputes does not work does not work its paralysed, so it a priority to really reform that and take account of all inputs of all members, we make sure we come up with a dispute settlement system that works for all.”

“There is a need to modernise the rules of the WTO and bring them up to 21 century issues. What do I mean by that? We have to look at the digital economy, which has become so prominent during this pandemic, e-commerce is key, it’s going to grow in leaps and bounds as we move on. WTO does not presently have rules that underpin e-commerce,” she adds.

Below is Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s address:
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Last year October, Washington blocked consensus around naming Okonjo-Iweala as the next Director-General of the WTO.

The Nigerian candidate was earlier recommended to the General Council of the world body which is made up of 164 member states after receiving key endorsements from the European Union, the African Union and Japan among others.

US correspondent in New York, Sherwin Bryce-Pease reports that the US insisted that despite the key endorsements towards a consensus decision, that the South Korean candidate Yoo Myung-hee remains in the race:
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Strong backing

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel says South Africa is one of the countries that strongly lobbied for Okonjo-Iweala.

Patel says she has a strong backing of the entire continent:
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Source: SABC News (sabcnews.com)