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WTO: Nigeria Reaches Out To US, South Korea To Back Okonjo-Iweala’s Bid

The Federal Ministry of Trade says Nigeria is “currently reaching out” to all members of the Word Trade Organisation (WTO), including the United States and South Korea, to persuade them to support Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in her bid to become the next Director-General of the Geneva-based body.

Recall that a high-powered WTO panel had on Wednesday recommended Okonjo-Iweala to lead the global trade watchdog. The panel said the Nigerian candidate had a wide margin of support and was best poised to command a consensus from the organisation’s 164 members.

But the US opposed Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy, rather backing her only contender and South Korea’s Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee.

The office of the US Trade Representative described Myung-hee as a successful trade negotiator with the skills needed to lead the trade body at a “very difficult time”.

The opposition pushed a decision on the next DG of the trade body to November 9, less than a week after the US presidential election.

The general council meeting is expected to try to secure the required consensus from all member states for Okonjo-Iweala, who’s hoping to become the first African and first woman to lead the WTO.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Nigerian trade ministry said it is working to “overcome the impasse”.

“Nigeria is currently reaching out to all members of the WTO including the United States and South Korea to overcome the impasse as well as persuade the United States to join the consensus,” the statement said.

Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Mariam Katagum, was quoted as saying Nigeria will continue to reach out to all member countries to secure the consensus needed for a final decision on Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment.

“We shall keep you updated on this issue and hope that, we would achieve the desired goal of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala securing appointment as the first African and the first female to Head the WTO,” she added.

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