In meetings this week with the heads of leading UN System international agencies, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said that cooperation on trade would be critical to addressing global challenges such as high food prices and the ongoing pandemic and urged them to support WTO members’ efforts to deliver results at the upcoming 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), to be held between 12-15 June 2022 in Geneva.
The Director-General attended the spring session of the United Nations Chief Executives Board (CEB) for Coordination in Vienna on 12 May 2022. This is the first time that the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, who chairs the Board, convened an in-person session of the CEB since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CEB meeting in Vienna was an opportunity for the DG and her counterparts to exchange views on global challenges and their possible solutions. During a conversation on the state of the world, DG Okonjo-Iweala pointed to the ongoing crises in international security, food, environment and climate, public health, and the world economy.
She noted that the WTO had had to downgrade its trade forecast, with merchandise trade volumes now projected to grow 3% in 2022, compared to the 4.7% forecasted last October. Despite the economic and political headwinds facing trade, the DG said that “trade is very much part of the mix of policy solutions required to deliver the equitable growth, job creation, and environmental sustainability people around the world need.”
She added: “Delivering such results is critical for rebuilding public confidence in international cooperation and multilateral institutions. This is why I have been urging governments to invest in the multilateral trading system and the WTO – starting with a successful 12th Ministerial Conference in Geneva next month.”
DG Okonjo-Iweala also highlighted the WTO’s partnerships in the UN System and contribution to the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development.
The CEB is headed by the UN Secretary-General and is composed of the executive heads of UN agencies, funds, and programmes and the executive heads of the IMF, the WBG and the WTO.