From Uche Usim, Aidoghie Paulinus and Walter Ukaegbu, Abuja
Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said the global body is concerned about Nigeria’s multiple exchange rate regime and its impact on international trade.
Responding to questions after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja yesterday, she said some member states of the WTO have complained about Nigeria invoking the balance of payment agreement 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. 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.”
She said a meeting with Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), will be held to further discuss the situation.
“But eventually, I think having a strong exchange rate and being able to phase out multiple exchange rate, I think we’ll be heading in that direction.
The former finance minister also urged Nigeria to encourage and push for more trade, saying it is the only way the country can benefit from the WTO, adding that adding value to its products and exports will attract the rest of the world.
Speaking during a visit to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, Okonjo -Iweala further said the WTO will support Nigeria with capacity building and technical assistance with a view to improving the quality of products the nation exports to other countries.
“Nigeria stands to benefit by encouraging and pushing for more trade, becoming a bigger part of the multilateral trading system, and to do that, its has to produce more, add value to its products and export more. “Right now, Nigeria has 0.3 percent of world trade and 19 percent of Africa’s trade. You could see that as very small, but you could also turn it around and see it as a big opportunity to make use of what has happened to the Africa Continental Free Trade. “So, WTO will support Nigeria with capacity building and technical assistance to improve the quality of the products that we export.
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