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WTO DG RACE: US Withdraws Support For Okonjo-Iweala, Backs Korean Rival

The coast seems not fully clear yet as the United States withdraws support for the Nigeria’s Nominee for the highly competitive World Trade Organization, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to clinch the victory as the next Director-General of the exalted World Trade Organization

Trump administration said it won’t back the appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to be the WTO’s next Director-General on Wednesday for the reasons that might not be unconnected with diplomatic and political developments.

U.S President, Donald Trump

According to Bloomberg, the U.S. could not support a consensus decision to appoint Okonjo-Iweala, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Dennis Shea said during a meeting of WTO delegates in Geneva, according to three officials who were monitoring the proceedings.

The Source, who preferred anonymity said: ”the European Union endorsed Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to lead the World Trade Organization, bolstering her bid as the U.S. backs the only other contender in the final phase of the race.

All 27 EU governments agreed on Monday in Brussels to support Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian former finance minister, over Yoo Myung-hee, South Korea’s trade chief, in the contest to become WTO director-general, according to officials familiar with the matter. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations were confidential.”

The development came after Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former finance minister, received a key endorsement Wednesday from the WTO selection committee, which moved her a step closer to becoming the WTO’s first female director-general.

With this latest development, it is evident that the U.S is about to act as a ‘veto’ to disrupt the process, especially the WTO decisions that are already taken by a consensus of its 164 members.

It was further revealed that work would continue to reach a consensus ahead of meeting of the General Council tentatively set for Nov. 9.

Okonjo-Iweala, 66, twice served as Nigeria’s Finance Minister and 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.

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 organization.

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

The Trump administration has played a key role in the the WTO’s descent into disorder. In December, the U.S. precipitated the the paralysis of the WTO appellate body, which has the final say on trade disputes involving the world’s largest economies.

The U.S. said appellate body members had exceeded their mandate and as a result the WTO had emerged into a forum where nations could obtain trade concessions from the U.S. through litigation rather than negotiation.

Source: Bloomberg

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