Dr Vladimir Antwi-Danso, Dean, Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College (GAFSC), has welcomed the appointment of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria as the new Director-General (DG) of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
He noted that Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment was a plus for both Nigeria and Africa.
Speaking with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, Dr Antwi-Danso said Dr Okonjo-Iweala made history by being the first woman and the first African to be chosen as the DG of the WTO.
He congratulated Dr Okonjo-Iweala for her achievements over the years and her gradual rise to stardom; working at the World Bank and then as the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning for Nigeria.
He also praised her for her articulation on issues of economic governance, global governance and third world development.
“And we all doff our hats to her for having shone that very much for herself, for Nigeria and Africa. We are very happy that the world has seen her credentials and endorsed her.
“And this is a plus for herself personally and a plus for Africa; that we have the men and women capable of leading global institutions like the WTO.”
Dr Antwi-Danso said Dr Okonjo-Iweala was capable of bringing to bear on the WTO some directions that would inure to the benefit of Africa.
He said he was particularly interested in the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU), which is the main WTO’s agreement on settling disputes.
The dispute settlement mechanism aims to secure a positive solution to a dispute.
He stated that DSU was an area where developing countries were unable to explore the basic tenets in the WTO, making it difficult for them to fight for their rights when hurt.
“Because nobody is punished for anything, it is like the country is rather left to punish the offending country. We are weaker, we can’t do it. So, she must look at that place.”
He said although this might be difficult to achieve, however, as a leader of the WTO, when she drew attention to it, it was going to work.
Dr Antwi-Danso also suggested to the new DG to look at Article 24 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which provided the basis for two or more territories to form a customs union or establish a Free Trade Area (FTA).
He said the application of Article 24 was such that it was misinterpreted with developing countries suffering.
Dr Antwi-Danso added that the exception rule of Article 24 stated that if an FTA area wanted to have a special dispensation with another free trade area, then they could have discrimination, for the purpose of development.
“So, when the Lome Convention died, there was leeway for a new dispensation and you could use Article 24 to do that but what we saw was that the European Union (EU) wanted to sign agreements with individual countries. They stated their reason, that is not what Article 24 says and they were forcing developing countries to accept that,” he said.
“And we (developing countries) are impotent, absolutely impotent. I’m very much worried about the application of Article 24 under the EPA. And I believe that the EPA is to help developing countries and that is where there can be discrimination away from Article 11. I believe these are thorny issues that she must deal with.”
Dr Antwi-Danso also asked the new DG to take up the issue of subsidies for farmers in developing countries.