Charlotte Street Partners



WTO - Women Take Over

Written by Katie Armour, senior associate 
Edited by Adam Shaw, associate partner
16 February 2021

Good morning,

JK Rowling was turned down by 12 publishers before Bloomsbury agreed to publish Harry Potter. I like to draw on that fact like a mantra whenever I’m discouraged.
Today I’m fuelled by fresh inspiration. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed as the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation and her four-year term will begin on 1st March. She’s the first woman and the first African to hold the post.
Okonjo-Iweala was the first woman to be Nigerian finance minister. She led negotiations that cut $30 billion off the country’s national debt, founded the Centre for the Study of Economies of Africa and has 14 honorary degrees.
She spent 25 years working at the World Bank as a development economist and managed an operational portfolio of $81 billion. She leads an African Union special envoy to deal with the economic aftermath of Covid and heads a charity that is channelling $600m into routine vaccinations for children in the world’s poorest countries.
As you can see, her CV is impressive.
Yet when she was put forward for the WTO position last autumn, the Trump administration blocked the appointment. The then US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, said: “We need a person who actually knows trade.”
This was despite the overwhelming majority of the WTO’s 164 member countries supporting her candidacy.
With Trump in the rear-view mirror, she’s now got the job she deserves and at the end of this year the WTO will hold its first ministerial conference under her leadership.
She has a huge task and a short time frame to present results to world leaders, and there are some obvious flash points on the horizon.
How will the dual American citizen navigate the trade tensions between China and the US? How will the WTO rule on Trump’s steel tariffs and what precedents could that set?
Will she address frustrations at nations like China and India being allowed to self-designate as developing countries despite ranking in the world’s largest economies?
How she will deal with these challenges remains to be seen but we know she’s got mettle.
She’s a self-declared fighter who earned herself a nickname for causing trouble and showed true grit when her 82-year-old mother was kidnapped in an attempt to dissuade her from campaigning on fuel subsidies.
Maybe the lesson here is that setbacks teach you more than sail throughs.
Okonjo-Iweala says she will search for common ground and believes that small victories pave the way to bigger ones.
She says she’s a reformer, not someone who just talks about it. In this day and age what more can you ask for?


The prime minster has urged the public to be “optimistic but patient” on the relaxation of Covid restrictions. He highlighted there were still more people in hospital than at the peak of the first wave and said steps taken to ease lockdown should be “cautious but irreversible”. Next week the government is expected to set out a roadmap for lifting restrictions.

Sir Ian McKellen has joined forces with other big names from the acting world to urge the government to change visa rules for artists. The signatories to an open letter stress that Brexit changes have put up a “towering hurdle” to working in Europe and are seeking changes that would allow visa-free work in Europe. The authors voice concern that these changes could not have come at a worse time as the creative sector reels from the coronavirus pandemic.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have agreed to a 90 minute TV interview with Oprah Winfrey. In their first interview since leaving the royal family the couple are expected to discuss royal life, marriage, parenthood and their new philanthropic plans. (£)

Business and economy

Rishi Sunak is under growing pressure to avoid tax rises as Conservative MPs urge him to take advantage of cheap borrowing opportunities. The chancellor has said he wants to be open with the public about the fiscal discipline needed to repair the country’s finances and will set this out in his 3 March budget. He is thought to be considering an increase in corporation tax and a possible freeze in the income tax personal allowance later in the parliament. (£)

Jaguar Land Rover yesterday announced plans to go 100% electric by 2039. The company plans to introduce six pure electric variants of Land Rover in the next five years, with the first all-electric Land Rover model ready in 2024. The cars will be built at the firm’s Solihull plant. The company is also aiming to achieve net zero carbon emissions across its supply chain, products and operations by 2039. Tata Motors’ share price jumped three per cent following the announcement.

Britain’s medical cannabis market is “on the verge of a major boom” as the second company operating in the sector prepares to list on the London Stock Exchange. Israeli firm Kanabo, which produces prescription and over-the-counter medicinal cannabis, raised £6 million from investors ahead of its market debut today. Chief executive Avihu Tamir says he expects there to be between 20 and 30 listed firms operating in this area within three years. (£)

Columns of note

Melanie Phillips warns in The Times that Israel shows the dangers of lifting lockdown too early. She argues that vaccination is not a panacea and says the prime minister is right to resist calls for a swift easing of restrictions. She stresses that although Israel is running a successful vaccination programme, new variants and a disregard for social restrictions has led to many young people and children now falling seriously ill. (£)

Bill Gates says innovation, not trees, will save the planet. Talking to The New York Times about his new book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster”, the Microsoft co-founder sets out his vision of the path to a zero emissions future.

Polly Toynbee writes in The Guardian that two-party politics is no longer fit for purpose. She argues that by lurching from Obama to Trump, and now to Biden, the system has denied America “coalitions of compromise”. Toynbee says the UK suffers with the same problems, as each party is ridden with conflict.

Cartoon source: The Independent


What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed in positive territory on Monday due to renewed vaccine optimism after the UK government hits first major vaccine target. 

The FTSE 100 ended the session up 2.52% at 6,756.11, while the FTSE 250 was 1.81% higher at 21,418.90. Sterling remained above the $1.39 level for the first time in nearly three years. It grew 0.48% against the dollar to trade at $1.39 and gained 0.32% on the euro to €1.15.

In company news: 

After the positive vaccine news, British Airways owner IAG shot up 6.76% and EasyJet rose 6.56%. Cineworld also jumped 10.59%.
Rolls-Royce gained 3.47% after announcing it had hired former Deloitte partner Panos Kakoullis as chief financial officer.
Several banks had a positive day. Barclays was up 5.52%, NatWest gained 4.87% and Lloyds was 5.36% firmer.
Oil companies BP and Shell also rose by 6.53% and 6.1% respectively as oil prices hit 13-month highs.

What’s happening today?

Mmc Norilsk Adr

BHP Group
Blan Tech Grp
Pan African
Petra Diamonds

Trading Announcements

Baronsmead 2Vt
Baronsmead Vt
BMO Capital & Income Investment Trust
Nexus Infrastr.

Ovoca Bio

Final Dividend Payment Date

Interim Payment Date
Afh Financial 

Int. economic announcements
(09:00) ZEW Survey (GER)
(09:00) ZEW Survey (EU)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Today is pancake day and on this day every year approximately 52 million eggs are consumed in the UK – 22 million more than normal. (Source: Mirror)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee
EU Visa arrangements for creative workers

House of Lords 

EU Security and Justice Sub-Committee
Post-Brexit UK-EU Security Co-operation

Scottish Parliament 

Topical Questions
The Report of the Independent Review of Sexual Abuse in Scottish Football
Arrangements in place to ensure that passengers entering Scotland from non-red list countries
Ministerial Statement
Scottish Government Debate
Independent Review of Adult Social Care
Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee
Oral evidence: EU exit and the environment
Subordinate legislation: Single use carrier bags
Subordinate legislation: Crofting community right to buy
Economy, Energy & Fair Work Committee
Oral evidence: Climate change plan
Subordinate legislation: The Companies Act (2006)
Consideration: The budget
Justice Committee
Consideration: Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill
Subordinate legislation: The Parole Board
Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints
Consideration: Work programme
Health & Sport Committee
Subordinate legislation: General Pharmaceutical Council
Subordinate legislation: Health and Care Professions Council
Oral evidence: Budget Scrutiny
Delegated Powers & Law Reform Committee
Oral evidence: Public appointments
Consideration: Sea Fishing (EU Exit)(Scotland)(Amendment)
Affirmative procedures
Consideration: Defamation and Malicious Publication (Scotland)(Bill)
Consideration: Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill

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