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Okonjo-Iweala Commences Work As WTO DG, Emphasizes On Fisheries Subsidy


Nigerian economist and development expert, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala assumed office as the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Monday, March 1, 2021.

Read more about Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Donning a face mask with her elbow bumps doled out, the former Nigerian finance minister spared little time towards commencing work as she threw her weight behind long efforts aimed at fisheries subsidies by member states. Dr Okonjo-Iweala is fully aware of the huge task ahead and is braced up for it.

‘I am coming into one of the most important institutions in the world and we have a lot of work to do. I feel ready to go.’

-Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

The 66-year-old is concerned about efforts targeted at reducing overfishing, noting that it is a top priority for her office. For over two decades, negotiators have been struggling towards reaching an agreement that will aid in removing subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as well as prohibiting fisheries subsidies that cause overcapacity and overfishing.

While calling for negotiators to finalize discussions regarding the issue ‘’as soon as possible,’’ Okonjo-Iweala did not fail to credit the efforts of Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, who heads the talks on fisheries subsidies.

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‘My presence is to try and support him (Santiago Wills)  proactively to try and unblock the situation so he can complete the fantastic work he has been doing…It has been 20 years — and 20 years is enough. Things are not easy when members are negotiating and there are still a lot of critical issues that need to be sorted out. But we are hopeful.” Wills said it was “music to my ears to see on the first day the (director-general) comes here and makes a statement on the fisheries negotiations.’


Aside from emphasizing the fisheries subsidy issue, the Nigerian’s first day in office included a meeting with staffers as she attended her first meeting of the General Council which consists of top envoys from the organization’s 164 member states. The meeting held behind closed doors was done through videoconference owing to COVID-19.

Nigerians have continued to celebrate the exploits of one of their own on the global scene, thus, a portrait made by Bamaiyi Danladi Art to celebrate Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s first day in office caught our attention.


Economic Times

Featured Image Source: Bamaiyi Danladi Art

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Ugo Chinedu

I am a Lion, I love to hit heights that seem impossible so I can motivate others and prove doubters wrong. For me, impossible is nothing. I'm open to learning and I love to read, travel and meet new faces.

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