Former Nigerian Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s bid for the headship of the World Trade Organisation has been endorsed by the United States. With this endorsement, the coast is now clear for the emergence of Okonjo-Iweala as the next Director General of the global trade body.
Okonjo-Iweala had last October secured the vote of 163 of the 164 members of the trade organization, but could not be declared the head of the WTO because the organisation’s selection rules stipulate that its DG has to emerge by consensus.
South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee, backed by the US, was Okonjo-Iweala’s sole opponent after other contestants withdrew from the race last year. She had earlier on Friday announced her withdrawal from the race, after discussions with the United States and other major nations.
Endorsing the former Nigerian minister’s bid for the WTO job, a statement by the Office of the United States Trade Representative Friday said US had taken note of the decision of Ms. Myung-hee to withdraw her candidacy and was “pleased to express its strong support for the candidacy of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next Director General of the WTO.”
The US statement read: The United States takes note of today’s decision by the Republic of Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee to withdraw her candidacy for Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“The Biden-Harris Administration is pleased to express its strong support for the candidacy of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next Director General of the WTO. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala brings a wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy from her 25 years with the World Bank and two terms as Nigerian Finance Minister. She is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience managing a large international organization with a diverse membership.
“The Biden-Harris Administration also congratulates Minister Yoo Myung-hee on her strong campaign for this position. She is a trailblazer as the Republic of Korea’s first female trade minister and the first candidate from Korea to advance this far in the Director General selection process. The United States respects her decision to withdraw her candidacy from the Director General race to help facilitate a consensus decision at the WTO.
“It is particularly important to underscore that two highly qualified women made it to the final round of consideration for the position of WTO Director General — the first time that any woman has made it to this stage in the history of the institution.
“The United States stands ready to engage in the next phase of the WTO process for reaching a consensus decision on the WTO Director General. The Biden-Harris Administration looks forward to working with a new WTO Director General to find paths forward to achieve necessary substantive and procedural reform of the WTO.”
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