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The WTO is concerned about the growing concentration of industries



(Washington) The Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, spoke on Tuesday, during a round table organized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in favor of a ” deconcentration” of industries in order to build “more resilient supply chains”.

Taking the case of Africa, the boss of the WTO stressed that the continent had to import “99% of its vaccines and 95% of its pharmaceutical products”, for lack of an industry based on the continent.

However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, “when Covax (initiative to ensure equitable access to the vaccine, editor’s note) had the money to import vaccines, it was not possible because of export restrictions imposed by the producing countries, recalled Okonjo-Iweala.

“Why can’t we deconcentrate and diversify the manufacturing (of essential products, editor’s note) to these countries? We would have truly global, diverse and more resilient supply chains,” the WTO Director General insisted.

“The supply chains for certain products are today extremely concentrated”, added Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, recalling that “80% of vaccines are exported by ten countries”, a situation that is found with regard to solar panels or the microprocessors.

We need to adapt trade rules in such a way as to advance the idea that we can also produce in developing countries. We don’t have to be just commodity exporters.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of the WTO

The international official, however, warned of the risk of “fragmentation” and “decoupling” of the world economy, consequences “of the many current geopolitical tensions”.

“If we end up with rival trading blocs, we will not be able, I emphasize this point, to solve the problems that we are currently facing and which require full cooperation,” she warned.

“My message is that we must tackle global warming, but also other challenges like the next pandemic, in a collaborative way”, hammered Mme Okonjo-Iweala, “in this matter, trade can be a facilitator”.

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