Economic policy

FG seeks synergy from WTO members to boost global economic policy

The federal government has called on members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to work collectively on reforms that will revitalize the organization and strengthen its role in shaping global economic policy.

Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, made the call during the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC 12), held in Geneva, Switzerland , according to a press release from the ministry.

Katagum said members had a shared responsibility to work collectively to strengthen the organization and undertake the necessary reforms that would revitalize it and enhance its role in shaping global economic policy.

The minister said Nigeria believed that members should seek innovative solutions to the multi-faceted challenges of the WTO.
She highlighted the need for the organization to adapt to the changing global socio-economic environment in order to remain relevant.
The Minister said that despite the commendable achievements of the WTO, its failure to adapt to the changing nature of the global economic landscape has continued to undermine the economic benefits that can be reaped by members.

“We are witnessing the adverse effects of growing trade and geopolitical tensions, which have now been exacerbated by the difficulties of COVID-19 as well as the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

“The WTO has played an important role in terms of expanding world trade and production, contributing to global sustainable development and supporting the integration of national economies.

“Under the auspices of the WTO, members are undertaking the reforms needed to improve competitiveness and growth, increase productive capacity and create jobs.

“We have been able to increase the size of our middle class and lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

“At this difficult time, the world is looking to the WTO for answers that will support economic recovery.

“However, the enormous challenges facing the rules-based multilateral trading system embodied by the WTO have continued to hamper the achievement of the results needed to boost growth.

“These challenges are occasioned by the loss of trust among members and political tensions that trigger unilateral protectionist actions and have undermined the search for consensus on key issues,” she said.

According to Katagum, Nigeria saw the re-establishment of trust and a sense of common purpose as an essential first step in achieving meaningful reform of the WTO.
She said there was a need to work together in a transparent and inclusive manner to build bridges, defuse political tensions and foster convergence on key issues of interest among members.

She added that WTO rules need to be updated to reflect commercially meaningful rules on digital trade, services, investment and MSMEs.
This, she said, would help the institution be more effective and relevant to the diverse economic priorities of its members.

Katagum said the conference would provide WTO members with the opportunity to launch a process of reform.
She also said the conference would simultaneously address development issues that have long been on the WTO negotiating agenda and trade-relevant issues that are priorities for members in the 21st century.