The federal government has called on World Trade Organisation (WTO) members to work collectively to on reforms that will revitalise the organisation and enhance its role in global economic policy-making.
Minister of state for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, made this call at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC 12), held in Geneva, Switzerland, according to a statement from the ministry.
Katagum said that members had a shared responsibility to work collectively to strengthen the organisation and undertake necessary reforms that would revitalise it and enhance its role in global economic policy-making.
The minister said that Nigeria believed that members needed to seek innovative solutions to the multi-faceted challenges of WTO.
She stressed the need for the organisation to adapt to the evolving global socio-economic environment in order to remain relevant.
The minister said that in spite of the laudable accomplishments of WTO, its inability to adapt to the evolving nature of the global economic landscape had continued to undermine the economic benefits derivable by members.
“We are witnessing the adverse effects of growing trade and geo-political tensions, which have now been exacerbated by the COVID-19 difficulties as well as the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
“WTO has been playing significant roles in terms of expanding global trade and production, contributing to global sustainable development and underpinning the integration of national economies.
“Under the auspices of WTO, members are undertaking requisite reforms to improve competitiveness and growth, increase production 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.
“In this difficult time, the world is looking up to WTO for answers that will underpin economic recovery.
“However, the enormous challenges confronting the rule-based multilateral trading system embodied in WTO have continued to undermine delivery of the results needed to drive growth.
“These challenges are occasioned by dwindling trust and confidence amongst members and the political tensions which trigger unilateral protectionist actions, and have undermined consensus-building on key issues,” she said.
According to Katagum, Nigeria considered restoring trust and a sense of common purpose as a critical first step to achieving meaningful WTO reform.
She said there is the 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 the WTO rule book needed to be updated to accommodate commercially-meaningful rules on digital trade, services, investment and MSMEs
This, she said, would help the institution to be more effective and relevant to the diverse economic priorities of its members.
Katagum stated that the conference would avail WTO members the opportunity to set in motion a reform process.
She also said that the conference would address simultaneously the long-standing development issues on the negotiating agenda of WTO and commercially-meaningful issues that were of priority to members in the 21st century.