WTO: US Decides Okonjo-Iweala’s Fate Next Week

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

 

By Our Reporter

Despite winning with an overwhelming support from the 164 members of World Trade Organisation to emerge Director General of the WTO, former Nigerian minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s fate will be decided next week by the United States.

Recall that Okonjo-Iweala’s chances of being declared the next director general of the trade body suffered setbacks as the United States failed to endorse her for the top job.

The former minister moved a step closer to becoming the first woman and the first African to be director of the global trade watchdog as she secured the support of a key group of trade ambassadors in Geneva.

She’s reportedly being backed by countries in Africa, the Caribbean, the European Union, China, Japan and Australia.

Despite being the favourite for the plum position, reports said her candidacy failed to win the support of the United States, which raised last-minute objections to the process by which the new director general was being picked.

Ideally, the WTO chooses its director general by consensus, with all 164 members having to approve a candidate.

But the US is said to be unhappy with the way the trade body is being run.

A spokesperson for the WTO on Wednesday said Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy would be put to a meeting of the body’s governing general council on November 9, suggesting there would be negotiations to secure consensus among members.

Since inception, every director general of the trade body has been appointed by consensus. In the event that the United States maintains that it will not support Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, the WTO’s constitution does eventually provide for a vote.

Trade experts hinted that Okonjo Iweala would not enjoy a favourable tenure if not supported by the US,but there are speculations that Washington’s position may be affected by the result of next week’s presidential election.

 

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