WTO Concerned About Nigeria’s Exchange Rate, Says Okonjo-Iweala

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The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is concerned about Nigeria’s foreign exchange rate, the new Director-General, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said.

The head of the global body said this yesterday while fielding questions from newsmen after she visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, in company of some officials from the WTO and some Nigerian ministers.

Responding to this concern, she said, “So yes, the WTO is concerned about foreign exchange, the way we manage it, the way we use it and how we use it to support manufacturing or imports and exports in our economy.

“And I think we are in discussion with them about the complaints or about the exchange rate regime and we try to explain. I think having a strong exchange rate and being able to phase out of this, I think we’ll be heading in that direction.

“We’re also going to see the governor of the central bank, and will undoubtedly discuss some of these issues,” she said.

She however expressed the commitment of the global body to further assist Nigeria.

“WTO will do more to help Nigeria, but we need to add value to our products in order to trade more. We should exploit all the opportunities in front of us.”

The new WTO DG thanked President Buhari for the support she received from her own country in the race for the position.

President Buhari told her that in spite of the robust support Nigeria gave to her candidacy for the position, “You also earned it. We are happy you made it, but you earned it with your record of performance both at home and abroad.”

Okonjo-Iweala also visited the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Usman.

“My visit is to see how the WTO can support Nigeria and improve its ability to trade. I am looking at it as an advantage that we have a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of the AfCFTA and be able to expand and one of the objectives to see how the WTO can help and add value to our primary products especially within Africa.”

Responding, Zainab said the government “needs to strengthen manufacturing, and also get women involved and support Nigeria in driving economic inclusive growth by paying special attention to the contributions of women.”

Okonjo-Iweala who also visited the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, said Nigeria’s 0.33 per cent share in world trade is “a very small fraction” of the volume of global trade.