Despite wide support, US ‘opposes’ Okonjo-Iweala’s emergence as WTO DG

Despite wide support for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s candidate for the director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the US has expressed its opposition to her emergence.

TheCable reported on Wednesday that Okonjo-Iweala had emerged winner of the race with support from 104 of all 164 member countries of the WTO.

Those countries include many in Africa and the European Union, where she had received public support.

Despite being an American citizen, sources say the US does not consider Okonjo-Iweala as being committed enough to the interests of the world power at the flagship trade body.

Bloomberg had initially reported that the US was leaning towards Yoo Myung-hee, the South Korean candidate.

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Bryce Baschuk, Bloomberg’s WTO reporter, also tweeted on Wednesday that the US is opposed to Okonjo-Iweala’s emergence and the road forward remains “unclear”.

The heads of delegation of the WTO are to meet by 3pm and decide on the way forward.

Unlike the World Bank where the US has a larger voting power than other countries, the WTO is run differently, by the consensus of every member country.

“The WTO is run by its member governments. All major decisions are made by the membership as a whole,” the WTO website reads.

“In this respect, the WTO is different from some other international organizations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

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“Where consensus is not possible, the WTO agreement allows for voting — a vote being won with a majority of the votes cast and on the basis of ‘one country, one vote’.”

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