The United States is preventing Okonjo-Iweala from being named DG of the World Trade Organisation
The U.S prefers the South Korean, even though Okonjo-Iweala holds a U.S passport.
Even though NOI holds a U.S passport, Donald Trump’s country is opposing her coronation as DG of the 164-member WTO.
Most of the other countries are on the ex-minister’s side, however. The WTO usually settles for a new DG by consensus--meaning that all member countries have to agree on the choice.
In a statement, the Office of the U.S Trade Representative, which advises President Trump on trade policy, said the WTO "must be led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field.”
The U.S prefers Okonjo-Iweala’s opponent in the race, South Korea's Deputy Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee.
The U.S says Yoo had "distinguished herself" as a trade expert and "has all the skills necessary to be an effective leader of the organisation.”
The statement from the U.S adds that: "This is a very difficult time for the WTO and international trade. There have been no multilateral tariff negotiations in 25 years, the dispute settlement system has gotten out of control, and too few members fulfill basic transparency obligations. The WTO is badly in need of major reform."
NOI has long said she is the one woman capable of bringing much needed reform to the WTO.
After a consultative meeting on Wednesday, October 28, 2020, the Chair of the WTO General Council, David Walker, said: “The candidate that had the best chance of attaining a consensus of the membership is Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria. Consultations on the way forward will start immediately.”
Reuters reports that: "Trump's "America First" policies have upended the global trading order and presented an existential threat to the WTO.
"Trump has called the institution "broken" and "horrible". Washington has blocked appointments to the WTO's Appellate Body that settles trade disputes, which now no longer has the minimum number of judges to convene."
Okonjo-Iweala has the support of the African Union, European Union, the Caribbean, Pacific States and some Asian countries.
The 66-year-old Nigerian has worked at the World Bank and sits on the board of Twitter and Gavi, the vaccine alliance company.
A winner is likely to be declared on or before November 9.
Okonjo-Iweala says; "Happy for the success and continued progress of our WTO DG bid. Very humbled to be declared the candidate with the largest, broadest support among members and most likely to attract consensus. We move on to the next step on Nov 9, despite hiccups. We're keeping the positivity going!"
A tasking job
The new boss of the WTO will be tasked with overseeing much needed reforms, steer the trading world through a post-COVID recession, clinch multilateral deals, manage rising protectionism and navigate the trade war between China and the United States.
If Okonjo-Iweala scales the U.S hurdle, she would become the first female DG of the WTO in the institution's 25-year history.
She would also become the first African to occupy the office.
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