Nigeria’s multiple exchange rate regime worries WTO, says Okonjo-Iweala
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), says the world trade body is worried about Nigeria’s multiple exchange rate regime and how it affects international trade.
While responding to questions from journalists after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Monday, the former finance minister said some member states of the WTO have complained about Nigeria’s invoking the balance of payment agreement to make to be able to conserve foreign exchange.
“WTO has one of the agreements of balance of payments, and Nigeria certainly invoked this to be able to conserve foreign exchange. But some other members have brought a complaint against us (Nigeria) that we shouldn’t have used this article in that way,” she said.
“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.”
Okonjo-Iweala said she will meet with Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to further discuss the situation.
“I think that we had that discussion with them, they complaints about the exchange rate regime and we (Nigeria) try to explain.
“I shouldn’t say we because I’m now DG WTO, it is for Nigeria’s representative to explain to the WTO, to those members complaining why we’re doing this.
“But eventually, 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.”
Commenting on the non-functioning WTO’s dispute settlement system, Okonjo- Iweala said there would be discussions with all members including the United States on how to make it work again.
She said this was because the rules-based organisation could not continue to make rules without its dispute settlement system operating effectively.
On COVID-19, the DG said the trade organisation would contribute more to the solutions of vaccines therapeutics and diagnostics, especially to poor countries.
Okonjo-Iweala advised the Nigerian government to establish local vaccine manufacturing companies as the Coronavirus pandemic will not be the last.