The United States’ government has revealed why it is opposed to the election of Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Ngozi- Okonjo-Iweala, as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Aledeh News had reported how the US failed to endorse Okonjo-Iweala for the top job despite her enjoying the overwhelming support of the WTO’s 164 members.
The opposition followed a recommendation of the panel of three senior WTO ambassadors. The troika of ambassadors had concluded that the Nigerian candidate had a wide margin of support and was best poised to command a consensus from the organisation’s 164 members.
US’ opposition pushed a decision on the next DG of the trade body to November 9, less than a week after the country’s presidential election.
In a statement by the Office of the United States Trade Representative on the selection of the next WTO DG late Wednesday, it said it supports Okonjo-Iweala’s only contender and South Korea’s Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee.
The country described Myung-hee as “a bona fide trade expert who has distinguished herself during a 25-year career as a successful trade negotiator and trade policy maker.”
“She has all the skills necessary to be an effective leader of the organisation,” the statement said.
The US described this period as a “very difficult time for the WTO and international trade.”
It noted that the WTO is “badly in need of major reform” and “must be led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field.”
“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 US said.
Okonjo-Iweala 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.”
The final winner between the Nigerian and Myung-hee will replace Brazil’s Roberto Azevedo who stepped down as WTO DG in August.