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WTO Panel Recommends Okonjo-Iweala For DG

The selection committee of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has endorsed Nigeria’s former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in her bid to become the first female Director-General of the organisation.

According to Bloomberg, people familiar with the matter said the panel of three senior WTO ambassadors told Okonjo-Iweala that she had a wide margin of support and is best poised to command a consensus from the organisation’s 164 members. The people declined to be identified because the discussions are confidential.

The recommendation means the former Nigerian minister has cleared one of the final hurdles in a complex and lengthy process aimed at naming the next leader of the WTO.

The 66-year-old twice served as Nigeria’s finance minister under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and also under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan respectively.

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

Okonjo-Iweala campaigned as a WTO outsider and a reformer who told Bloomberg she plans to bring a “fresh set of eyes” to a deeply dysfunctional organisation.

“I’m known as a strong reformer,“ she told the medium in an interview. “My whole career at the World Bank has been involved with reforms in countries that have been beneficial.”

On Monday, all 27 European Union (EU) governments agreed to support Okonjo-Iweala over her South Korean rival, Yoo Myung-hee.

Last week, the European Parliament also endorsed the Nigerian’s bid.

She also enjoys the support of the 55-member African Union.

The final winner between the two women will replace Brazil’s Roberto Azevedo who stepped down as WTO DG in August.

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