Okonjo-Iweala: Nigeria must diversify to attract investment, boost trade surplus

The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has emphasized the urgent need for Nigeria to diversify its economy to attract investment and bolster its trade surplus.

She made this assertion during a press briefing following a meeting with the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, and other women at the Nigerian Women in Leadership event held in Abuja on Saturday.

Citing recent data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which revealed a significant trade deficit of N1.41 trillion between October and December 2023, Okonjo-Iweala underscored the imperative for Nigeria to attract both domestic and foreign investment.

According to the NBS, Nigeria’s exports during the period totaled N12.69 trillion, while imports stood at N14.11 trillion, resulting in a trade deficit of N1.41 trillion.

Okonjo-Iweala stressed the importance of creating an enabling environment to entice investment, both locally and internationally.

She stated, “If we are going to go into surplus, we also have to think of how to make use of the African continental free trade area because we have a large market here but 1.4 billion is an even larger market. Those are the things we have to do.”

Addressing the challenges faced by women in leadership positions, Okonjo-Iweala emphasized the need for women to support one another and strive to enhance their positions in society.

She highlighted the disparity in female representation in key leadership roles, urging concerted efforts to increase the percentage of women in decision-making positions.

Okonjo-Iweala remarked, “Women have to fight for it, but the men also have to support because you cannot have 50 per cent of your population not participating. So, these were some of the issues we discussed today and we have to proffer solutions on how the women could deal with challenges of leadership.”

Despite the challenges, Okonjo-Iweala commended the women leaders present at the event, noting their significant contributions to society. She highlighted the Duchess of Sussex’s sharing of her experiences as a particularly impactful moment during the gathering.

As Nigeria navigates its economic landscape, Okonjo-Iweala’s call for diversification and gender inclusivity serves as a clarion call for concerted efforts to drive sustainable growth and development.

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