As Nigerians celebrate Ngozi- Okonjo-Iweala successful run as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the United States’ government has revealed why it is opposed to the election of Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance.
The opposition followed a recommendation of the panel of three senior WTO ambassadors. The trio 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.
The United States opposition has, however, pushed a decision on the next Directoor-General of the WTO to November 9.
According to 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.”
The statement said:
She has all the skills necessary to be an effective leader of the organisation.
The US described this period as a “very difficult time for the WTO and international trade,” adding:
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.
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.
The final winner between the Nigerian and Myung-hee will replace Brazil’s Roberto Azevedo who stepped down as WTO DG in August.