World News – GB – Nigerian Okonjo-Iweala proposed as WTO chief – Trade Sources


GENEVA (Reuters) – A key group of ambassadors to the WTO offered Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to lead the World Trade Organization, Reuters trade sources said on Wednesday, paving the way for him to become the first African woman to lead the world watchdog in its 25-year history

The decision, which has yet to be finalized, ends a more than four-month selection process involving intensive lobbying that saw her face South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee at the last tower

Former Minister Okonjo-Iweala’s recommendation was made by three WTO ambassadors, the so-called ‘troika’, after consulting members in a series of closed-door meetings in Geneva in part of a complex and secret process that some have compared to a papal succession

Troika, led by New Zealand Ambassador David Walker, to officially recommend a closed-door meeting of heads of delegation at 3 p.m.m (2:00 p.m. GMT)

It has yet to be approved by consensus at a meeting of the 164 members of the WTO

Many members such as China and the United States have refused to publicly cite their preference, although some African, Caribbean and other states have expressed support for Okonjo-Iweala

The European Union approved Okonjo-Iweala on October 26 However, three sources following the contest said Washington had privately indicated a preference for Yoo, although it is not known if this would block Ngozi

The leadership vacuum was created after outgoing WTO leader Roberto Azevedo of Brazil resigned a year in early August The WTO is currently headed by four MPs

Okonjo-Iweala, 66-year-old former finance minister and managing director of the World Bank, will face considerable challenges with rival economies bickering amid mounting tensions and protectionism during a plunge commercial induced by the coronavirus

His inbox will also feature an overhaul of the WTO’s main appeals body – which President Donald Trump’s administration has brought to its knees by blocking judicial appointments – and a major trade conference in 2021

Development expert Okonjo-Iweala called herself a « maker », saying she had the political clout to exert influence in capitals

« I feel like I can solve problems I’m a known reformer, not someone who talks about it I’ve done it both at the World Bank and in my country, » she told Reuters

Currently chairman of the board of the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, Okonjo-Iweala also said the WTO should play a role in helping poorer countries access COVID- drugs and vaccines. 19

All quotes were delayed for at least 15 minutes See here for a full list of exchanges and delays

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria, European Union, Director-General of the World Trade Organization

Global news – GB – Okonjo-Iweala from Nigeria proposed as WTO leader – Trade sources



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