The World Trade Organization’s bid to select a new leader was plunged into uncertainty on Wednesday after the United States rejected the Nigerian woman proposed as the global trade watchdog’s next director-general.
Just six days before the U.S. election in which trade is a hot topic, Washington struck another blow at the WTO, which U.S. President Donald Trump has described as “horrible” and biased towards China.
The WTO itself has called a meeting for Nov. 9, less than a week after the presidential election, by which time it hopes to have secured full backing for Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
The decision needs to be approved by consensus, however, meaning any of the 164 WTO members could block her appointment.
Three WTO ambassadors, the “troika” charged with finding a successor to Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, had decided that the former Nigerian finance minister should be the next chief as she had secured wide cross-regional backing.
Many members, including China and the United States, had declined to name their preference publicly before Wednesday although some African, Caribbean and other states had voiced support for Okonjo-Iweala. The European Union endorsed her on Oct. 26.
Okonjo-Iweala, a 66-year-old former finance minister and World Bank managing director, would face considerable challenges with rival economies bickering amid rising tensions and protectionism during a coronavirus-induced trade plunge.
Okonjo-Iweala, a development expert, has branded herself a “do-er”, saying she has the political clout to command influence in capitals.
Currently chair of the of GAVI vaccine alliance board, Okonjo-Iweala has also said the WTO should play a role in helping poorer countries access COVID-19 drugs and vaccines.
Click on the comment box below and leave us your thoughts. Thank you