The chances of Nigeria’s former finance minister, Mrs Okonjo Iweala, of becoming the first Nigerian, first African and first-ever woman to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO), has been hit with uncertainties following strong opposition from the United States of America.
Iweala on Wednesday was already just a blink away from achieving the historic feat of becoming the World finance body chief after a WTO nominations committee recommended the groups 164 members appoint Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
With 163 out of 164 votes secured, Okonjo Iweala’s hope still looks shaky as her only opposition, the United States of America, which is critical of the WTO’s handling of global trade, prefers her opponent, South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee, trusting more in her ability to better reform the body.
Defending its position in a statement, the office of the US Trade Representative which advises President Donald Trump on trade policy, said the organisation “must be led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field”. It stated also that ” Ms Yoo had “distinguished herself” as a trade expert and “has all the skills necessary to be an effective leader of the organisation”,
It added, “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 fulfil basic transparency obligations. The WTO is badly in need of major reform.”
Although, the 163 votes already secured by Okonjo Iweala was an enough pool to help secure her appointment as the WTO head, but an opposition from the United States, which wields a high level of influence on the decision making process of the organization, could pose a great threat at this moment of her pursuit.
Earlier on Wednesday, after a WTO delegates meeting to discuss the appointment, spokesman Keith Rockwell said just one member country did not support Ms Okonjo-Iweala.