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The Leader the WTO Needs

With the world teetering on the brink of historic reversals of hard-won progress on reducing extreme poverty and malnutrition, combating child mortality, and extending educational opportunity, we need a trading system that works for the poor. And the World Trade Organization needs the right director-general to oversee it.

LONDON – With the global trading system under severe pressure, international cooperation to strengthen a rules-based order is vital. Now, perhaps more than ever, we need a World Trade Organization that supports economic recovery, defends multilateralism, rebuilds trust, and rises to the twenty-first-century challenges posed by poverty, inequality, climate change, and – more immediately – the COVID-19 pandemic.

We write as representatives of non-government organizations, philanthropists, and business leaders united in our conviction that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is uniquely well placed to lead the WTO into a critical new era.

It is all too easy to lose sight of why trade matters to ordinary people around the world. Aid plays a critical role in advancing human development. But it is through trade and markets, from local to global, that people work their way out of poverty and countries create jobs, build prosperity, and seize business opportunities. In our interdependent world, an open multilateral trading system overseen by the WTO can benefit all countries.