Left Menu
Development News Edition

U.S. rejection plunges WTO leadership into uncertainty

The news confirmed what trade sources earlier told Reuters. Their decision, which awaits approval from WTO members, caps a more than four-month selection process involving intensive lobbying which saw her square up against South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee in the final round. The head of the "troika" of ambassadors relayed their recommendation to WTO members at a meeting on Wednesday. However, the United States then said they did not back Okonjo-Iweala.

Reuters | Washington DC | Updated: 28-10-2020 22:58 IST | Created: 28-10-2020 21:57 IST
U.S. rejection plunges WTO leadership into uncertainty
Representative image Image Credit: ANI

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 watchdog's next director-general. Three WTO ambassadors, charged with finding a successor to Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, had decided that Nigerian former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala should be the next chief as she had secured wide cross-regional backing. The news confirmed what trade sources earlier told Reuters.

Their decision, which awaits approval from WTO members, caps a more than four-month selection process involving intensive lobbying which saw her square up against South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee in the final round. The head of the "troika" of ambassadors relayed their recommendation to WTO members at a meeting on Wednesday.

However, the United States then said they did not back Okonjo-Iweala. The decision needs to be approved by consensus, meaning any WTO member could block her appointment. "One delegation could not support the candidacy of Dr. Ngozi and said they would continue to support South Korean minister Yoo. That delegation was the United States of America," WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell told reporters at the WTO's headquarters in Geneva after the closed-door meeting.

The WTO has set a meeting to settle the matter for Nov. 9, less than a week after U.S. voters go to the polls for a presidential election. It was not immediately clear if the outcome of the vote would affect the U.S. position on Okonjo-Iweala's appointment. Rockwell said there was likely to be "frenzied activity" before the Nov. 9 meeting to secure the required consensus.

Many members such as China and the United States had declined to name their preference publicly although some African, Caribbean and other states had voiced support for Okonjo-Iweala. The European Union endorsed Okonjo-Iweala on Oct. 26.

However, three sources following the contest said that Washington had privately indicated a preference for Yoo. The leadership void was created after outgoing WTO chief Azevedo stepped down a year early in August. The WTO is currently being steered by four deputies.

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. Her inbox would also feature an overhaul of the WTO's top appeals body - which U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has brought to its knees by blocking judge appointments - and a major trade conference in 2021.

Okonjo-Iweala, a development expert, has branded herself a "do-er", saying she has the political clout to command influence in capitals. "I feel I can solve the problems. I'm a known reformer, not someone who talks about it. I've actually done it both at the World Bank and in my country," she told Reuters.

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.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Turbulence surrounding tobacco control in Ghana

... ...

Smart healthcare: IoT redefining the way healthcare is delivered

As the world is embracing the new wave of digitalization triggered by the pandemic and the arrival of 5G, the adoption of IoT devices will further boom. With adoption set to soar, IoT security issues and other challenges cant be ignored any...

Refugee compassion and response: Ideas to mitigate disasters now and in their future

Their homeland becomes a forbidden territory for them and more likely than not, their journey to foreign soil is no less traumatizing, not to say deadly. It is crucial to help refugees live a life of dignity and purpose....

Inadequate water infrastructure causes a tidal wave of coronavirus in rural Alaska

... ...

Videos

Latest News

Haryana govt to formulate policy for division of bigger plots

The Haryana Government is all set to formulate a policy for the division of big plots here, it said in an official statement on Saturday. In this, a provision is being made for every plot to have an area of at least 100 yards after partitio...

Sailing-British sailor Thomson abandons Vendee Globe after damaging rudder

Briton Alex Thomson has been forced to abandon the Vendee Globe round-the-world sailing race after incurring damage to the starboard rudder of his boat, his team announced on Saturday. Thomson was looking to become the first non-French winn...

Formula 1: Hamilton takes pole at Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton on Saturday dominated every segment of Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying to take the pole position. The Mercedes driver was pegged to just 0.146s by Verstappen after the first runs in Q3, suggesting ther...

Iran's Khamenei urges 'punishing' of those behind scientist's killing

Tehran Iran, November 28 ANISputnik Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Saturday called on the countrys authorities to hold accountable those responsible for the killing of nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, noting the importance of c...

Give Feedback