An article in The Economist says fixing the World Trade Organisation is not enough for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first woman and first African to lead it.
On February 15th, the day she was appointed as director-general, she announced that she wanted to help bring an end to the pandemic, too.
The two are related; she hopes to encourage members to lift export restrictions on food and medical products, and even stimulate vaccine production. The former Nigerian finance minister and chairwoman of GAVI, a vaccine-finance agency, is not alone in thinking the WTO could do more.
When the pandemic first struck the World Trade Organisation seemed largely irrelevant. That was partly by design: it permits trade restrictions if they protect health.
Now some are asking whether the WTO should do more to discourage trade restrictions. Members including Singapore and New Zealand have sought to limit export controls and lower import barriers for pandemic-related products.
The idea has not caught on among exporters, perhaps because they know that they would struggle to keep up their side of the bargain when crisis hits. Ms Okonjo-Iweala is keen to beef up the WTO’s monitoring efforts, which should be easier.