Roberto Azevedo, the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Thursday in Abuja said trade was the most effective tool to fight poverty.
Azevedo said this at a two-day high-level policy and private sector trade and investment facilitation partnership forum in Abuja.
According to him, this can be boosted with connectivity and good infrastructure, saying that “trade is 24 percent of the GDP of African countries and developing countries will need 2.5 trillion dollar investments annually if they are to meet certain goals.
He further asserted that “steps to creating enabling environment include sharing ideas, exchanging insights, cooperation at the global level to facilitate investment flows.
On his part, Okechukwu Enelamah, the host, and Minister of Trade and Investment said although Nigeria had moved up to 145 from its previous position of 169 out of 190 economies collated by the World Bank, there was room for improvement.
He quoted the World Bank saying Nigeria is “one of the top 10 reformers in the world,” position the country wished surpass, but better than where we were and we will move up,’’ he said.
Welcoming investors and his trade counterparts across Africa, Enelamah said there was an abundance of opportunities which must be tapped with right policies and regional integration.
He said there was an urgent need to facilitate development financing and to encourage better collaboration that would lead to better results.
Marcel de Souza, the President of the ECOWAS Commission who commended Nigeria’s latest World Bank ranking on the ease of doing business charts, said that although Africa had improved in free movement of persons, there was the challenge of movement of goods and the need to refocus on employment for the youth.
In his words, “we still have terrorism threatening our regions but we have adopted systems to resolve conflicts and created adopted investment codes to avoid competition among member states.
“We must begin to think towards the common currency. Systems of exchange are not easy so we have adopted programmes to go towards common currency as soon as possible.
“If we can achieve this, we’ll have more investments. I urge investors to look into health, transportation to reduce poverty,’’ he said.
Albert Muchanga, the Commissioner for Trade and Industry African Union, said Nigeria’s new ranking “will improve livelihoods for the ordinary people, create jobs and boost the standard of living.
“The visa on arrival policy is a step in the right direction. It will promote trade and investments across the continent’’.
The Secretary-General, UN Conference on Trade and Development, Mukhisa Kituyi, expressed the said hope that Nigeria would exert its weight as the regional leader.
The forum themed “Facilitating Trade and Investment for Development” is co-hosted by the WTO, ECOWAS Commission and the private sector.