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WTO concerned about Nigeria's foreign exchange management - Okonjo-Iweala

The World Trade Organization director-general said on Monday that the WTO was concerned about Nigeria’s foreign exchange management and how it had been used to support manufacturing, exports and imports.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said some WTO members had brought complaints and that Nigeria needed to explain its foreign exchange regime to the WTO and those members.

She said Nigeria had invoked WTO’s agreement on balance of payment to conserve foreign exchange.

“It invoked this article but some other members have brought a complaint against us that we shouldn’t have used this article in that way,” Okonjo-Iweala told reporters after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

“So, yes, the WTO is concerned about foreign exchange, the way we manage it and how we use it to support manufacturing, export and import in our economy.”

Nigeria’s central bank, seeking to conserve its dollar reserves, curbed access to the interbank market for importers bringing in a wide range of goods to boost local production and set up a multiple currency regime to manage pressure on the naira.

Okonjo-Iweala, a former Nigerian finance and foreign affairs minister, said she would meet the central bank governor to discuss some of the issues.

Nigeria’s central bank has favoured a strong naira, a policy backed by President Muhammadu Buhari, who sees it as a national pride. The bank has argued that a weaker naira will stoke inflation which has been in double digit since 2016.

The central bank has rejected calls for a more flexible currency, which the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank has said will help Nigeria absorb future shocks.

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