Daily Management Review

US Attempt To Block Appointment Of Nigerian Woman To Head The WTO


The United States has opposed the move to make Nigeria's ex-finance minister as the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and therefore her appointment now has been thrown into doubt.
WTO’s 164 members were recommended to appoint Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the organizations leader by a WTO nominations committee recently. If appointed she would become the first woman and first African to head the organization that governs world trade.
But the preference for the position of the US, which has been critical of the how global trade issues have been handled by the WTO, is another woman forerunner - South Korea's Yoo Myung-hee. Te US has said that she would bring in necessary reforms in the WTO.
She was "immensely humbled" to be nominated, Okonjo-Iweala said.
But following US’s decision of continuing to back South Korea's trade minister, a road block was created for the four-month long selection process to appoint the next WTO director-general.
The WTO "must be led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field", said the Office of the US Trade Representative, which advises President Donald Trump on trade policy, in a statement critical of the body.
The statement said that Yoo had "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," the statement added.
Okonjo-Iweala was not mentioned in the statement.
Just one member country did not support Okonjo-Iweala, said WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell on Wednesday following a WTO delegates meeting to discuss the appointment.
"All of the delegations that expressed their views today expressed very strong support for the process... for the outcome. Except for one," he said.
The WTO has been described as "horrible" and biased towards Chins by US president Donald Trump previously and some of the appointments for key positions in the trade regulatory body have already been halted.
The issue would be again discussed on November 9 after the US presidential election, the WTO said.
Opposition from the US does not mean that the WTO members cannot appoint the Nigerian as its leader. However, considerable influence over the final decision can non the less be wielded by the US.
It is likely that there would be "frenzied activity" to make all members of the WTO to come to a consensus for the appointment of Okonjo-Iweala, Rockwell told reporters. The European Union has supported the candidature of the Nigerian woman.
Following the setting down of outgoing WTO chief Roberto Azevedo in August, a leadership void has been at the organization.
WTO is currently being led by four deputies.