Despite opposition from the US government, most European Union member states have continued to express their support for Nigeria’s former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation.
The WTO’s effort to select a new leader by consensus hit a brick wall on Wednesday after the United States vetoed the move towards consensus.
Unmasking learnt that the WTO’s ambassadors have backed Okonjo-Iweala for the position.
According to WTO spokesman, Keith Rockwell, Deputy US Trade Representative, Dennis Shea, maintained that Washington won’t join a consensus to appoint Okonjo-Iweala because the US supported her opponent, South Korean trade minister, Yoo Myung-hee,
In the same vein, US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, had pushed for Yoo even though Okonjo-Iweala gained American citizenship in 2019.
He claimed that Okonjo-Iweala, who was a longtime top official at the World Bank, has been too close to pro-trade internationalists like Robert Zoellick, a former USTR from the Bush administration, who worked with her when he was president of the Washington-based bank.
It’s pertinent to know that WTO’s major decisions are made by a consensus of its 164 members. This indicates that a single country, especially the world’s largest economy, can create a stalemate to pressure others.
Meanwhile in her home country, continues to enjoy support from many Nigerians of who had congratulated her ahead of the final selection.
Professor of Capital market, Nassarawa State University, Prof Uche Uwaleke stated that her emergence as WTO DG would be a positive impact on the Nigeria Economy.
“Nigeria would be in a strong position to champion the cause of Arica Union African Continental free trade area project.”
Similarly, in a statement signed by the president of Trade Union Congress, Quadri Olaleye, and secretary General, Musa- Lawal Ozigi, the duo appreciated the Federal Government, Nigerians and all the countries that have support Okonjo Iweala so far.
If the former managing director of the World Bank finally clinches the position, she would be the first woman and the first African to lead the WTO and will generally boost Nigeria front runner status.
The Geneva-based institution would keep working to reach a consensus ahead of the meeting of the General Council tentatively set for November 9.
Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, born on 13th of June, 1954 is a Nigeria-born Economist and International Development expert. She holds a significant position on the boards of Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and the Africa Risk Capacity (ARC).