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WTO-DG Job: Okonjo-Iweala On Hot Seat As FG, US Prepare Tactics

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Nigeria’s two-term finance minister (2003-2006 and 2011-2015), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is presently on a hot seat as the United States (US) plans to veto her nomination for the job of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General (DG).

Okonjo-Iweala, who was the first female Nigerian foreign Minister (2006), among eight nominees WTO-DG position was shortlisted in the final two.

The race started with Dr Jesús Seade Kuri (Mexico), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria), Mr Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt), Mr Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova), Ms Yoo Myung-hee (Republic of Korea), Ms Amina C. Mohamed (Kenya), Mr Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), and Dr Liam Fox (United Kingdom).

Two females, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria), and Ms Yoo Myung-hee (Republic of Korea) made the final shortlist; an emergence that indicated that the organisation will for the first time be led by a female candidate, since it was established on 1 January 1995.

Although Okonjo-Iweala gathered lots of support from the body and even WTO itself, the US has appeared to be a hurdle for her as the nation preferred her counterpart, Ms Yoo Myung-hee (Republic of Korea).

In a report by Bloomberg, the Deputy US Trade Representative, Dennis Shea, had purportedly said the nation could not support a consensus decision to appoint Okonjo-Iweala.

Shea said the US disagreed with the way in which the process was being carried out, according to sources.

However, a source at the Nigerian Ministry of Trade and Investment has claimed that the federal government was “aware of USA’s position long before now and we are not folding our hands”.

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The source assured that the government was taking steps to prevent America’s opposition from snowballing into adverse swing in the support base for Nigeria’s nominee.

Okonjo-Iweala has so-far received wide support as the best candidate to replace Roberto Azevêdo, the sixth Director-General of the WTO.

She gathered the most vote from the 164 members representing 98 per cent of world trade. Okonjo-Iweala gathered 110 support of the 164.

WTO spokesperson Keith Rockwell had in a tweet said: “the candidate that had the best chance of attaining a consensus of the membership is Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria. Consultations on the way forward will start immediately”.


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