Thursday, 23 May, 2024


WTO: US opposes Okonjo-Iweala as consensus candidate

The United States has opposed Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the consensus candidate to lead the World Trade Organisation.

The PUNCH reports that key WTO ambassadors tapped Okonjo-Iweala on Wednesday as the best pick to lead the organisation.

But the US said it supported South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, who is Okonjo-Iweala’s opponent in the race to lead the WTO.

WTO spokesman, Keith Rockwell, was quoted by AFP as saying 27 delegations had taken the floor during Wednesday’s meeting.

“One delegation could not support the candidacy of Dr. Ng0zi and said they would continue (supporting) South Korean minister Yoo. That delegation was the United States of America,” he added.

Rockwell, however, said Wednesday’s meeting “was never intended to make a final decision on our next DG.”

“That decision can only be taken by the General Council,” he added.

With the US’ opposition, the WTO’s 164 member states still need to determine whether they will support her before their next General Council meeting on November 9.

The PUNCH earlier reported that the troika of ambassadors heading the World Trade Organization’s three main branches determined after four months of consultations with member states that Okonjo-Iweala was the most likely to obtain the consensus needed to take the top job.

The initial pool of eight candidates for the WTO’s top post had been whittled down to just two over two previous rounds of consultations, with only Okonjo-Iweala and Myung-hee left in the race.

Okonjo-Iweala, 66, who served as Nigeria’s first female finance and foreign minister, has a 25-year career behind her as a development economist at the World Bank.

“I feel the wind behind my back,” she told a virtual press briefing after the 55-member African Union officially supported her.

Okonjo-Iweala, who also serves on Twitter’s board of directors, as chair of the GAVI vaccine alliance and as a special envoy for the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 fight, saw her candidacy get another boost this week when the EU threw its weight behind her.

If she eventually gets a majority backing, she would be the first woman and the first African to lead the global trade body in its 25-year history.

Credit: Punch


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