The Director General of the World Trade Organisation, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has commended Ghana’s robust and visionary efforts to digitalise broad aspects of the country’s economy and the entire E-commerce architecture describing it as the future of trade.
Describing digital trade as the “wave of the future”, DG Okonjo-Iweala, said such vibrant activism by countries like Ghana has informed the WTO to begin negotiating an E-commerce agreement that will decide the rules of digital trade.
The WTO Boss discussed this when she paid a courtesy call on the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, at the Jubilee House on Tuesday, 25th April, 2023, on the occasion of her working visit to Ghana as part of her maiden tour of Africa, which will also find her visiting Senegal, Cote d’ Ivoire, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Interacting with the President, Dr Ikonjo-Iweala said, “total global trade is about 31 trillion dollars. Of that, goods/merchandise trade is 25 trillion and services at 7 trillion. Within that services, digital services trade is growing the fastest, at about half of it, which is 4 trillion. And it’s growing rapidly at 8 percent per annum compared to the goods trade.”
As a result of this encouraging trend, she continued, “we are thinking that this is an area where our countries can benefit, and when we look, Ghana, as we mentioned to the Hon Minister in the morning, seems to be doing well providing some digitally traded services and professional services in business outsourcing.”
“There are many people trading digitally, in Ghana, we met many women today who are online and are doing digital trade, so one of the areas where we are thinking of working with our countries is on this issue of digital trade. We met to look at what are the challenges and constraints and opportunities because on the supply side, we have the International Trade Centre that can work and is working directly with some women here. “
Speaking on WTOs contribution to this, she stated that, the organisation can help with issues on certification, quality control of products, breaking into new markets, etc.
Therefore, she continued, “I just wanted to point this out to you that investing in the digital economy is very good because that’s going to be the wave of the future.”
She was quick to add that, WTO is already negotiating an E-commerce agreement that will decide the rules of digital trade and asked Ghana to participate fully towards its formulation.
On related matters of key concern to the Organisation, Dr Ikonjo-Iweala, appealed to Ghana to expedite action towards the ratification of Fisheries Subsidies Agreement which has found consensus after 21 years.
By this agreement, she stressed, “we were able to do away with 22 million dollars in harmful subsidies that lead to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and are actually negotiating a second phase of this agreement to deal with over-fishing and over-capacity.”
She emphasised on the importance of the agreement because 12 million people in Africa, depend on fisheries and Africa is losing 2.3 billion dollars from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and 3 billion from over-fishing and over-capacity.”
She said the agreement will eliminate the subsidies that the countries give which in turn result in encouraging the bad practices stated above, seek absolute transparency in the declaration of fish numbers and affords any country the absolute right to report cases of bad practices to the WTO tribunal.
She also touched on the global supply chain on issues like COVID 19, debt financing, agriculture with focus on value addition and food security, reforms at the WTO and trade related issues on the environment as well as climate change.
President Akufo-Addo, whilst touching on the establishment of the National Vaccine Institute, emphasised the strong affinity of the Ghanaian towards digitalisation, and the willingness to work on the various areas that require Ghana’s active participation.
He also called for a more intelligent approach to handling the issue on proliferation of plastics in the face of the difficulty of an outright ban.