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U.S. vice president, WTO chief agree on need to reform global trade body

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Kamala Harris and the head of the World Trade Organization agreed on Thursday about the need to reform the global trade body and pledged to work together to boost momentum for the global economy, the White House said.

Harris, the first Black and Asian U.S. vice president and the first woman to hold the office, offered strong support to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first African and first woman to head the Geneva-based organization, in a phone call on Thursday, the White House said. Okonjo-Iweala is a former Nigerian finance minister.

“They committed to work together to address the economic and health consequences of COVID-19 and climate change, and to prioritize resilience in the global supply chain,” the White House statement said.

The two leaders also agreed on the importance of leveraging trade to promote equity and economic growth, as well as the role that improved living standards, labor rights, human rights and the well-being of working families should play in setting policy.

“The Vice President highlighted the priority of the United States to invest in health and technology as engines for growth and to advance sustainable development,” it added.

The Senate is expected to vote next week to confirm President Joe Biden’s nominee as his chief trade negotiator, longtime congressional staffer Katherine Tai.

The Senate Finance Committee voted last week to advance Tai’s nomination to the full Senate on a voice vote, indicating no significant opposition.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Peter Cooney

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