People & Money

Okonjo-Iweala Urges African Countries to Add “Layers of Value” to Commodity Exports

A veteran member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he joined in 1997, and chaired from June 2001 to 2003 and 2007, Vice President Biden is committed to repairing relations with American allies. Joining other nations to endorse Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala will be consistent with the new shift to multilateral approach to international relations.

Nigeria’s two-time minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said economies in Africa could see a major transformation by adding “layers of value” to raw materials before exporting them.

“COVID-19 brought into relief Africa’s undiversified commodity-dependent economy. The lack of diversification relates to both products and sources of revenue,” Mrs Okonjo-Iweala told a graduation assembly at the 15th convocation ceremony of Iwo-based Babcock University on Saturday.

“Africa must manufacture more through value-addition to the raw materials it exports. The transformation of cocoa into delicious Ivorian chocolate provides a good example.”

The World Bank’s former managing director noted that the continent needed to foster self-sufficiency and cultivate its own indigenous manpower across economic sectors as answer to the headwinds and vulnerabilities from the pandemic outbreak.

A meeting aiming to decide the appointment of the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation, where Okonjo-Iweala is one the final two contenders, was halted till further notice last week, with only the U.S. opposing the move of the 164 member countries, who have united to choose her for the position.

Also Read: Okonjo-Iweala Remains Shoo-in as WTO Postpones DG Selection Process

The WTO typically selects its leadership through a consensus and just one member could resist the decision of others for any reason. There is no indication yet that the organisation would select its next DG purely through voting to break the stalemate.

“There is no doubt that African countries need to make the requisite investment in infrastructure, skills, and a conducive business environment,” she said in the graduation speech.

Trade would also derive profound robustness from broader digitisation of economic, educational and health institutions just as governments in Africa must expand the 90 million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises through incentives, soft loans and grants.

Also Read: WTO: Six Reasons Why USA Vetoed Okonjo-Iweala

Okonjo-Iweala will emerge the first African to lead the global trade watchdog in its nearly 26 years history and the first woman also to do so should she defeat South Korea Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, her lone rival.

With the election of Vice President Joe Biden as President of the United States, it is likely that the United States of America will join the European Union and other countries in endorsing Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala for WTO’s top job.

A veteran member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he joined in 1997, and chaired from June 2001 to 2003 and 2007, Vice President Biden is committed to repairing relations with American allies. Joining other nations to endorse Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala will be consistent with the new shift to multilateral approach to international relations.

 

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