FG To Persuade US, South Korea On Okonjo- Iweala’s WTO Bid

The Federal Government is trying to persuade the United States and South Korea, a move which will help Nigeria’s former minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala get consensus vote to emerge as the new Director- General of the World Trade Organisation, the Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment said.

The ministry disclosed this on Friday after an emergency virtual meeting convened by the  Minister of State and the Chairperson of the Campaign Strategy Team,  Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo.

The meeting was set to review and strategize on the way forward for the emergence of Okonjo- Iweala as the new DG.

Nigeria’s  Ministry of Foreign Affairs had disclosed the Nigerian secured the largest number of votes above her South Korean rival , Yoo Myung-hee, but the United States had put its weight behind its South Korean ally.

The Trade ministry said  Nigeria’s candidate needs the support of the United States and South Korea to secure a consensus vote for the former Finance Minister.

The ministry said, “Nigeria is currently reaching out to all Members of the WTO including the United States of America and South Korea to overcome the impasse as well as persuade the United States to join the consensus in adopting the recommendation of the appointment of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as DG-WTO.

“Nigeria wishes to express profound appreciation to all Members of the WTO  that have supported Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the post of WTO Director-General and would reach out to other countries to secure the consensus needed in the final decision on her appointment as the next Director- General of the WTO.”

The appointment of the former finance minister  is expected to be adopted by consensus of all members in line with WTO decision making procedure at a Special General Council Meeting scheduled for November 0 this year.

“The United States of America has registered reservation on the outcome of the final round in view of the fact that their preference is still the candidate of South Korea and further informed that they would not join the consensus in selecting Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala as DG-WTO at the Special General Council of 9th November, 2020,” the ministry said.  

The ministry noted that the Chair of the WTO General Council, Amb. David Walker of New Zealand, with the Facilitators of the selection process, the Chair of the Dispute Settlement Body and the Chair of the Trade Policy Review Body, on 28th October at the meeting of WTO Heads of Delegation in Geneva, informed the member countries that Okonjo- Iweala secured overwhelming support of members.

Walker said the votes were “both in terms of numbers as well as geographical spread and therefore emerged as the candidate most likely to gain consensus as DG-WTO. ”  

With Okojo- Iweala as the new DG, she will become the first African and the first female to Head the world largest trade bloc.

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