Okonjo-Iweala’s Emergence As WTO’s First African DG Delayed By US Objection

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala OnoBello

Us President Donald Trump administration has said it wouldn’t back the appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s nominee for World Trade Organisation’s next Director-General, delaying the renowned Economist’s chances of leading.

According to Guardian, the United States could not support a consensus decision to appoint Okonjo-Iweala, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, Dennis Shea, said during a meeting of WTO delegates in Geneva.

All WTO decisions are taken by a consensus of its 164 members, which means the U.S. move will act as a veto to disrupt the process. U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, has pushed for South Korea’s candidate, Yoo Myung-Hee, though Okonjo-Iweala gained U.S. citizenship in 2019.

In a statement late Wednesday, the US Trade Representative’s office expressed support for Yoo, calling her “a bona fide trade expert who has distinguished herself during a 25-year career as a successful trade negotiator and trade policymaker.”

It added, “she has all the skills necessary to be an effective leader of the organization. The WTO is badly in need of major reform. It must be led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field.”

If Okonjo-Iweala wins she will be the first African and first female director-general of the international body in its 25-year history. She was Nigeria’s finance minister during the tenures of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan.

She has experience working at international governance bodies as a former managing director of the World Bank and as a chairman at the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.

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