The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, has tasked the new Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, WTO, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on the need to introduce trade reforms and policies that will open up opportunities for Nigeria.
The Director-General, LCCI, Dr. Muda Yusuf, made this appeal in a statement on Monday while felicitating with Nigeria on the appointment of Okonjo-Iweala.
Yusuf also pointed out that it was necessary for the DG to develop an African Continental Free Trade Area strategy that would enable the country to leverage trade opportunities both continentally and globally.
He said, “While the emergence of Dr. 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.”
According to him, Nigeria needs to build capacity for international competitiveness of its products and services so as to benefit from the WTO.
He said, “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 the 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.”
“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,” he added.
“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,” Yusuf said.
According to him, it is very pertinent for African economies to build capacity within the continent in order to take advantage of the opportunities in global trade.