WTO: I’m positive despite US opposition, says Okonjo-Iweala

Former Nigerian Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, says she remains positive of becoming the first African and first female director-general of the World Trade Organisation despite United States opposition to her candidacy.

The ex-World Bank director said she felt humbled to have been declared the candidate with the largest votes amongst the 164 member states of the 25-year-old global trade organisation.

Okonjo-Iweala made this known in a tweet on Thursday.

She wrote, “Happy for the success & continued progress of our @wto DG bid. Very humbled to be declared the candidate with the largest, broadest support among members & most likely to attract consensus.

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“We move on to the next step on Nov 9, despite hiccups. We’re keeping the positivity going!”

Many Nigerians had expressed delight when key WTO ambassadors led by New Zealand’s Ambassador David Walker proposed Okonjo-Iweala as the best candidate for the job. But the US delegation opposed the move, saying it supported South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee instead.

Some Nigerians likened the US opposition to that encountered by African Development Bank chief, Akinwumi Adesina, who also faced intense hostility from Washington before his re-election.

The breakthrough of Adesina, has, however, been a source of hope for many who want Okonjo-Iweala to clinch the top job.

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The troika has concluded the third round of consultations and its decision marks an important step paving the way for Okonjo-Iweala to become next DG of the organisation.

But the WTO’s 164 member states still need to determine whether they will support her before their next General Council meeting on November 9.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government said it will continue to engage relevant stakeholders to ensure that the lofty aspiration of her candidate to lead the WTO is realised.

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