BY PATRICK JARAMOGI
LAGOS, Nigeria|SHIFTMEDIA| Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s ex-finance minister and nominee for the office of the director-general of the World Trade Organisation, WTO, is set to emerge winner in the highly competitive race. The former minister according to TheCable, polled 104 votes from 164 member countries to defeat her South Korea’s trade minister opponent, at the final stage of the race.
She has broken many records, including becoming the first African and first woman to occupy that office at the WTO.
U.S. Opposition to Okonjo-Iweala as WTO Chief Stalls Process
At first, news emerged of a win for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and her appointment as the World Trade Organisation’s director-general after a hotly contested race was hailed as an African first. However, ShiftMedia News has learnt that the former Nigerian finance minister’s win was opposed by the United States representative, who said President Donald Trump’s administration will not recognise Okonjo-Iweala as the consensus candidate. The announcement of Okonjo-Iweala as the new director-general is now postponed until after the United States presidential elections.
The US is blocking the appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next head of the World Trade Organization despite the former finance minister of Nigeria winning the overwhelming backing of the WTO’s 164 members, it has emerged.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala had moved a step closer to becoming the first woman and the first African to be the director of the global trade watchdog after securing the support of a key group of trade ambassadors in Geneva. Soundings taken by a selection panel of three WTO trade ministers found she had far more support than her South Korean rival, Yoo Myung-hee.
Sources said Okonjo-Iweala was backed by countries in the Caribbean, Africa, the European Union, China, Japan and Australia.
However, her candidacy failed to win the support of Washington, which raised last-minute objections to the process by which the new director general was being picked. An original list of eight candidates, which included the former British international trade secretary Liam Fox, has been whittled down to a final two since the summer.
By tradition, the WTO chooses its director general by consensus, with all 164 members having to approve a candidate. The US has been unhappy with the way the WTO has operated for some time, objecting to China’s designation as a developing country and blocking the appointment of new judges to the organisation’s appeals body.
Sources said it was unclear whether Washington’s opposition to Okonjo-Iweala was a deliberate attempt to sabotage an organisation much criticised by Donald Trump.
A WTO spokesman said her candidacy would be put to a meeting of the body’s governing general council on 9 November, adding that there was likely to be “frenzied activity” in the meantime to secure consensus.