Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), says she’s worried that the world is not ready to handle another pandemic.
The WTO DG said this on Friday during a panel discussion on ‘Preserving Open Trade: Subsidies, Geopolitics, and International Cooperation’ at the ongoing spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/ World Bank in Washington DC, USA.
The other panellists include Kristalina Georgieva, IMF managing director; David Malpass, World Bank president and Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The world has faced several pandemics in recent times: SARS in 2003, swine flu in 2009, COVID-19 in 2019.
During the session, the moderator asked Okonjo-Iweala about the potential global shock she’s worried about.
She mentioned two things — geopolitical tensions and the “next pandemic”.
“There are two things I’m worried about. One is a geopolitical miscalculation. That some powers miscalculate each other’s intentions, and the conflict spreads fast. I’m really worried about that because the element of mistrust that exists in the world now is significant,” Okonjo-Iweala said.
“The second thing that worries me is another pandemic because I don’t really feel we are prepared yet to deal with another one.”
On her part, Georgieva said their institutions have a role to play to build supply chain resilience for better functioning economies.
She said the potential shock that worried her the most is the “danger of multiple shocks hitting us simultaneously and our proven inability to deal with them”.
“We need to build that capacity to anticipate and build resilience and respond,” the IMF boss added.