By Victor Ahiuma-Young
African Trade Unions have called on the newly appointed Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Okonjo-Iweala, to ensure that global trade agreements promote workers’ rights, eradicate poverty and guarantee sustainable industrial development in the world.
They made this appeal in a congratulatory message to the new WTO Director General, signed by the Vice President, IndustriALL Global Union, IGU, Africa, Issa Aremu, and Joseph Montisetse of South Africa’s National Union of MineWorkers (NUM), and also Co- Chairman, the African Council of the Global Union.
According to the African Unionists, given her impeccable credentials as finance and foreign Minister and record performance at the World Bank, Dr Ngozi’s appointment was earned and deserved, beyond gender.
The continental workers’ movement said it was time for what it calls “alternative trade policies that must take into account the needs of working people around the world, inclusive of economic growth and sustainable development.
Consequently, they advised that, “The new WTO’s Director General must be guided by the history of WTO in Africa which has in many respects fostered de-Industrialization and job losses through uncritical wholesale dismantling of protection for domestic industries.”
They also noted that the emergence of Dr Ngozi is significant and fullest of time when the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA involving 54 African countries with a combined population of more than one billion people and combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $3.4 trillion have become a reality.”