The FINANCIAL — WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo visited Abuja, Nigeria, today (15 February) to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari and discuss how trade, and the WTO, can serve Nigeria in the years to come. He also met with Vice President Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, and representatives from the private sector.
The Director-General said:
“I want to keep the spotlight on Africa and ensure that trade is a catalyst to achieving the continent’s development goals. That’s why I’m in Nigeria today. It seemed appropriate that my first visit to Africa since the success of our Ministerial Conference should be to Nigeria — the continent’s biggest economy, and a leader in all senses of the word. I want to discuss how the WTO can do more to serve Nigeria.
“Around the world governments are struggling with a gloomy economic outlook and a range of challenges to delivering a return to strong growth. Nigeria is no exception. Indeed, the country faces a range of formidable challenges, such as security and governance issues, which have been compounded by the steep decline in oil prices, due largely to global over-supply. This is acting as a brake on economic growth in Nigeria. There are few signs that the decline in commodity prices will be reversed in the near future. Diversifying the economy to reduce dependence on the oil sector is a clear priority. Improving the conditions for trade and investment will be an essential part of the policy mix.
“Despite these challenges, under Nigeria’s new leadership I think the country can look to the future with a renewed sense of optimism. I met with His Excellency President Buhari earlier today and I commended his efforts to tackle the issues facing the country. We discussed how trade — and the WTO — can help in overcoming some of the challenges and seizing some of the emerging opportunities. Nigeria’s leadership will be as important as ever as we discuss the future of global trade negotiations. I look forward to working with Nigeria to ensure that the WTO delivers further reforms which can support development here — and across Africa.”
During his time in Abuja the Director-General addressed a meeting of private sector representatives on how the WTO can continue to serve Nigeria. He reviewed the benefits for Nigeria of the ‘Nairobi Package’ of trade reforms and other recent breakthroughs such as the Trade Facilitation Agreement. He also called for Nigeria’s private sector to make its voice heard in the current debate about the WTO’s future work, according to WTO.