WTO decides on Okonjo-Iweala February 15

Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, may be confirmed as the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) next Director-General on Monday, February 15, 2021.

This indication emerged on Tuesday in a notice posted on the international trade body’s website.

WTO said in the terse statement, “The WTO’s General Council will hold a special meeting on 15 February at 15:00 Geneva time to consider the appointment of the next Director-General. The meeting will take place in virtual format.”

If announced as the Director-General, Dr Okonjo-Iweala will be making history as the first African and the first woman to occupy the exalted office.

The race for a new DG for WTO started in May 2020 following the announcement by the former incumbent, Roberto Azevêdo, to step down on August 31, 2020, a year ahead of the expiration of his tenure, as the body called for nomination.

The nominees were pruned from the initial eight to five and eventually two; Okonjo-Iweala and South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee.

Okonjo-Iweala enjoyed massive support across the region and was set to emerge as the new DG but the United States, under former President Donald Trump, did not support the former Nigerian Finance Minister candidature and that created a hiatus since the practice in WTO is that the DG must be a product of consensus.

Mr Joe Biden’s administration has, however, lent its support to Okonjo-Iweala, which set the stage for Okonjo-Iweala to emerge as the consensus candidate.

Yoo Myung-hee, OkonjoIweala’s major rival, officially withdrew from the race last week, and said in a tweet that she would “work closely with the new DG.” 


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