The Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris and the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, spoke over the phone to discuss the need for reforms in the WTO.
Mrs. Harris divulged the topics discussed through her official Twitter account, which covered a a variety of topics including health, technology, investing in the environment, human rights, among other reforms deemed by both parties as necessary changes.
l spoke with WTO Director General Dr. Okonjo-Iweala. We agreed to advancing international trade for recovery and equitable economic growth. We discussed human rights, investing in the environment, health, and technology to spur development and prosperity for the American people. pic.twitter.com/VIDGpvZJG7
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) March 12, 2021
In a Press Release, the White House provided a summary of the phone call between the officials, stating:
“Vice President Kamala Harris congratulated the director-general and offered her strong support as the global community works toward recovery from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. They committed to work together to address the economic and health consequences of COVID-19 and climate change and to prioritize resilience in the global supply chain.
“The Vice President and the Director-General agreed on the importance of using trade to promote equity and economic growth. They discussed how improved living standards, labour rights, human rights, and the well-being of working families must be at the center of our shared priorities to use trade as a lever to lift communities out of poverty. They also discussed the need for reforms within the World Trade Organization to maximize its effectiveness for the future.”
“The Vice President highlighted the priority of the United States to invest in health and technology as engines for growth and to advance sustainable development. The Vice President and the Director-General committed to working closely together to accelerate momentum in the global economy for the benefit of all.”
Okonjo-Iweala spent 25 years at the World Bank as a development economist, rising to the position of managing director.
She also chaired the board of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization — a position that provided her with a unique perspective on how global trade can help facilitate the roll-out of vaccines and other critical tools needed to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Okonjo-Iweala previously served as Nigeria’s finance minister and has experience working at international governance bodies.
This new stance from the United States government towards the Nigeria-born Director-General, in stark contrast to Donald Trump’s rejection of her candidature to head the WTO, may bear fruit to both parties and the respectful relations the two trailblazing women at the top of the chain of command is a welcome new beginning.