4 June 2021
World Trade Organization Director-General, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala briefed members of the ICC global network today, marking her first major address to global business since taking up the role on 1 March.
In an exclusive global briefing to over 1,000 participants from over 100 countries, Director General Okonjo-Iweala set out her vision for the future of the global trade body – expressing a desire for it to do more to engage with external stakeholders including the private sector.
“ICC has such a long history of excellent work in international trade and investment,” she said. “The rules we deal with at the WTO have a direct impact on businesses ability to move goods and services across borders and tap into global markets. You the business community can help us understand what is working well and what is not.”
Welcoming Director General Okonjo-Iweala, ICC Secretary General John W.H Denton acknowledged the difficulties faced by the WTO in recent years, but said he was optimistic for the organization’s future under Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s leadership.
Both leaders discussed a wide range of areas in which multilateral trade policy has a key role to play in solving complex global challenges, including vaccine nationalism, fractured supply chains, fisheries stocks, and environmental sustainability. Mr Denton also underscored the important role that the WTO can play in enabling a resilient and durable global recovery for Covid-19.
“I’ve had the opportunity of working with the Dr Ngozi in recent weeks in the context of intergovernmental discussions on speeding access to Covid-19 vaccines – an issue on which we believe the WTO has a vital role to play,” said Mr Denton. “The health of the multilateral trading system — and the WTO itself — is, without doubt, an issue of prime importance for ICC and the global business community,” he said.
“There is no doubt that under Dr. Nogzi’s leadership, the WTO has started to make change in the right direction. I commit business to supporting this change and encourage members to accelerate the pace of WTO reform in the coming months,” he said.
Mr Denton committed to mobilising global business leaders ahead of the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in November this year at which ICC will play a major role at a dedicated Business Forum. The briefing took place just weeks ahead of a virtual trade dialogue with business leaders being held in conjunction with WTO and the Business-20.