NIGERIA’S nominee for the position of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, yesterday, emerged winner of the competitive race.
Okonjo- Iweala polled 104 votes from 164 member countries to defeat South Korea’s Minister of Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-Hee.
The official announcement is expected to be made later by WTO.
Okonjo-Iweala was Nigeria’s Finance Minister during the tenures of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan.
Born to Delta State’s parents and married to Abia State husband, the globally acclaimed scholar and technocrat boast of experience working at international governance bodies as a former managing director of the World Bank and as a chairman at the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation.
Okonjo-Iweala’s success as WTO DG makes her the first African and first female director-general of the international body in its 25-year history.
But W.T.O’s bid to select a new leader was yesterday plunged into uncertainty after United States reportedly rejected Okonjo-Iweala’s election as the global trade watchdog’s next leader.
Some analysts believe that United States will follow the rejection up with an exercise of its veto power.
The development is coming just six days before U.S. election in which trade is a hot topic, Washington struck another blow at WTO, which U.S. President Donald Trump has described as “horrible and biased” towards China.
Washington has already paralysed the W.T.O’s role as global arbiter on trade by blocking appointments to its appeals panel. Now, it threatens to render it leaderless for weeks or months to come.
The WTO itself has called a meeting for November 9, less than a week after the presidential election, by which time it hopes to have secured full backing for Okonjo-Iweala.
The decision needs to be approved by consensus, however, meaning any of the 164 WTO members could block her appointment.