January 21, 2021

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Okonjo-Iweala’s potential selection as WTO DG remarkable, says Adebayo

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Our Reporter

 

INDUSTRY, Trade and Investment Minister Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo has said that the potential selection of former Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as World Trade Organisation (WTO) director-general portends a remarkable achievement for Nigeria.

Speaking at the opening of the 15th Abuja International Trade Fair yesterday, Adebayo said the country will benefit immensely from Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment, pointing out that there are significant opportunities in her selection.

The chances of Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala became brighter on Tuesday as South Korea withdrew their candidate from the race, according to Washington Trade Daily. Yoo Myung-hee, South Korea’s Trade Minister was its candidate for the top job at the WTO

He noted that the Abuja International Trade Fair was being held at a time nations of the world were struggling to overcome the economic and social crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has massively impacted activities and economy as a whole.

Despite the negative impact of the COVID-19, the minister said there were opportunities inherent in the challenges posed by the pandemic, calling on businessmen to tap into the various programmes of the government to revive their businesses.

Read Also: WTO: Buhari calls up European Council boss for Okonjo-Iweala

He expressed the commitment of the Federal Government to promoting local production of goods and creation of jobs to ensure the development of the country and end poverty in the country, saying this informed the launching of the N2.3 trillion Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).

He said: “The ESP has also prioritized the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), a segment which accounts for 50% of our GDP, constitutes about 96% of registered businesses and employs about 70% of the labour force.  The importance of this segment to trade and commercial activities is immense. Therefore, you will all agree with me that it is important to provide the necessary support to this segment so as to enable them respond to the impact of COVID-19.”

Speaking on the initiatives for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), which included the N60 billion MSME Survival Fund and N15 billion MSME Guaranteed Off-take Scheme, Adebayo explained that the Survival Fund is supporting vulnerable Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in meeting their payroll obligations and safeguard jobs in MSMEs from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The scheme is designed to save at least 1.3 million jobs across the country; targeting an average of 35,000 individuals per state. The Guaranteed Off-take Scheme is specifically targeted at micro and small businesses and will save about 300,000 jobs and at least 100,000 MSMEs by guaranteeing off-take of priority products.

“In addition, 250,000 new business names are to be registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), but at zero cost to MSMEs; while 330,000 transport workers and artisans will get one-time grants.

“All these are in line with the strategic vision of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR of lifting 100million people out of poverty over the next ten (10) years; and the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment is positioned as a crucial agency for the attainment of this vision.”

The minister called on Nigerians to support locally-made goods to boost trade activities, pointing out that by doing so, “Nigeria will be able to create employment for its teeming youths, diversify the economy from a relatively narrow base, build industrial capacity and trade competitiveness as well as improve the management of our foreign exchange reserves to alleviate the economy’s vulnerability to changes in crude oil prices.”