Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first African and the first woman Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), spoke to CDE executive director Ann Bernstein about being a global reformer, fighting corruption and promoting global trade.
According to Dr Ngozi, the WTO and its predecessor – the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) – have created a more integrated and peaceful world, which led to over a billion people moving out of poverty.
Dr Ngozi explained that if the attacks on the WTO succeed in bringing about ‘deglobalization’, and the fragmentation of the world into trading blocs, global GDP would decrease by about 5 percent and the biggest losers would be developing countries. “The multilateral trading system is a global public good, and we must protect and invest in it,” she said.
Her experience of fighting corruption in Nigeria has shown Dr Ngozi that it is a long and often dangerous process, in which institutions are crucial. “The fight against corruption must go deep and we must all commit to the long-term. Part of that has to be about changing values and attitudes”, she said.