Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala emerges Director General of the World Trade Organisation

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, has emerged Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The WTO on Monday announced the confirmation of Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala as the first female and first African to hold the top position.

She was recently endorsed by the United States President Joseph Biden’s administration for the job, following the withdrawal of South Korean Trade Minister and candidate, Yoo Myung-hee.

The former President Donald J Trump’s government had blocked the confirmation of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala for reasons best known to them. The decision, she described as surprising to her adding that she never saw it coming.

She said she felt she had good understanding with the US government following her interview for the job twice.

“I think I was quite surprised when that came because there was no indication that there was any problem with the US.

“I had two good interviews with the authorities and with the administration so it was a surprise. But that’s the way life works. When things happen, you take them in your stride and you move on.

“It was absolutely wonderful when the Biden/Harris administration broke that logjam. They joined the consensus and gave such a strong endorsement to my candidacy. They joined the other 163 members to endorse my candidacy,” she said.

She received endorsement from over 163 member countries since October last year. But her confirmation for the job was blocked by the Trump administration which preferred the other candidate.

The US felt the WTO DG position must be held by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field.

“Ms Yoo has distinguished herself as a trade expert and has all the skills necessary to be an effective leader of the organisation.

“This is a very difficult time for the WTO and international trade. 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 WTO is badly in need of major reform,” said the office of US Trade Representative, which advises Trump.

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