By Emmanuella Anokam
Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of World Trade Organisation (WTO), has applauded Nigeria’s Afrobeats stars, Burna Boy and Wizkid, for wining awards at the 2021 Grammy, saying such services should be encouraged for export in Nigeria.
Okonjo-Iweala, on Tuesday in Abuja, while meeting with captains of industry sector, said with Nigeria’s large number of educated people, it has a comparative advantage in services with rooms to improve.
Burna Boy, whose real name is Damini Ogulu, won the Best Global Music Album category with his `twice as tall’, while Wizkid won the Best Video for his song with Beyonce.
The WTO director-general described the entertainment industry as a vibrant services sector embodied by artists, writers and the new generation of Nigerian musicians, actors and film makers.
“Recently Nigerias Burna Boy and Wizkid won the grammy award for their music and I will like to congratulate and applaud them because they were an example of services we can export.
“We are exporting so much of our creative arts abroad and this seems to be encouraged,” she said.
She further said Nigeria’s economy was at a critical juncture, adding that insufficient structural change had made Nigeria more vulnerable to shocks from the fall in oil prices five years ago.
This, she said, was coupled with the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
She said the looming transition to a low carbon global economy implied more changes ahead, hence careful economic planning and managment will be vital.
Speaking on change, she said Nigeria and WTO could help support the process of change because economic growth had been sluggish since 2016 when fallen oil prices pushed Nigeria’s economy to reccession.
The director-general recalled that before COVID-19 hit the global economy, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in 2018 and 2019 was in the neigbourhood of two per cent with population growth at around 2.5 per cent.
“The world bank estimates that even without the pandemic two million Nigerians would have fallen into poverty in 2020, the pandemic induced reccession is likely to have pushed an additional five million NIgerians into poverty in 2020.
“Nigeria’s economy shrinked by 2.2 per cent in 2020 and will only recover to 1.5 per cent growth in 2021 according to IMF data.
“With the domestic market of over 200 million people accounting to close to Africa’s economics outlook Nigeria has the potential to be an engine of investment, innovation and job creation in West Africa,” she said.
Okonjo-Iweala further said that in 2019 Nigeria accounted for 0.3 per cent of global machendise trade according to WTO data.
She stated that though the seventh most populous country in the world ranked 48th in the mechandise export and 84th for export of commercial services like cargo, transport and business, among others.
The former finance minister noted that Nigeria’s trade with other African countries made up of 19 per cent of intra African trade in 2019, roughly in line with the country share in continental.
This, she said, indicated that only 6.5 per cent of Nigeria’s import came from elsewhere in Africa.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was aimed at capturing activities of WTO and expectations of Nigeria and the private sector from the organisation to takle their challenges.
The meeting had in attendance representatives from Dangote company, Honeywell Group, First Bank Plc, Women Enterpreneurs and National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS).
The participants however appealed to the WTO director-general to assist their businesses through ongoing negotiations at the WTO aimed at removing bottlenecks in international trade.