Finally, US Govt Endorses Okonjo-Iweala For WTO Job

The United States government has finally endorsed Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to emerge as the Director-General of the World Trade Organization.

The US disclosed this in a statement by its office of Trade Representative.

The US endorsement of Okonjo-Iweala, a former World Bank Managing Director, is coming about 24 hours after her final challenger to the position, South Korean Trade Minister and candidate, Yoo Myung-hee, announced her withdrawal.

Yoo made the decision after discussions with the US and other major nations, a statement from Korea’s trade ministry had said on Thursday.

She also took various issues into account “comprehensively” including the need to revitalise the multilateral organization.

The US said in its statement that it has taken note of the decision by the Republic of Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee to withdraw her candidacy for Director-General of the World Trade Organization.

The statement reads in part, “The Biden-Harris Administration is pleased to express its strong support for the candidacy of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next Director General of the WTO.

“Dr Okonjo-Iweala brings a wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy from her 25 years with the World Bank and two terms as Nigerian Finance Minister.

“She is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience managing a large international organization with a diverse membership.

“The Biden-Harris Administration also congratulates Minister Yoo Myung-hee on her strong campaign for this position.

“She is a trailblazer as the Republic of Korea’s first female trade minister and the first candidate from Korea to advance this far in the Director General selection process.

“The United States respects her decision to withdraw her candidacy from the Director-General race to help facilitate a consensus decision at the WTO.”

The statement underscored the importance that two highly qualified women made it to the final round of consideration for the position of WTO Director-General, noting that this is the first time that any woman has made it to this stage in the history of the institution.

“The United States stands ready to engage in the next phase of the WTO process for reaching a consensus decision on the WTO Director General.

“The Biden-Harris Administration looks forward to working with a new WTO Director General to find paths forward to achieve necessary substantive and procedural reform of the WTO,” it added.

The World Trade Organisation members last October selected Okonjo-Iweala and Ms Yoo to advance to the final round in the race to lead the Geneva-based trade body.

But after being endorsed by majority of the members, Okonjo-Iweala’s promising run was stalled after the former US President Donald Trump’s administration failed to support her candidacy.