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US opposes appointment of Okonjo-Iweala as WTO’s Director General

Trump's administration said it won’t back the appointment of Okonjo-Iweala.

The United States has opposed the appointment of Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as the new Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by consensus.

Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that the Donald Trump’s administration said it won’t back the appointment of Okonjo-Iweala to be the WTO’s next director-general.

The report indicated that the U.S. could not support a consensus decision to appoint Okonjo-Iweala.

The Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, Dennis Shea, reportedly said this during a meeting of WTO delegates in Geneva, according to the Bloomberg’s report.

“All WTO decisions are taken by a consensus of its 164 members, which means the U.S. move will act as a veto that disrupts the process.

“A WTO official said work would continue to reach a consensus ahead of meeting of the General Council tentatively set for Nov. 9,” the report said.

The development came after Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former finance minister, received a key endorsement Wednesday from the WTO selection committee, which moved her a step closer to becoming the WTO’s first female director-general.

Shea said the U.S. disagreed with the way in which the process was being carried out, according to Bloomberg.

If it’s not possible for the general council to agree on a consensus candidate, WTO members can consider the possibility of recourse to a vote as a last resort by a procedure to be determined at that time.

Okonjo-Iweala was cruising closer to victory in her bid to become the next DG of WTO earlier on Wednesday.

According to reports from key officials at Geneva, Switzerland, the headquarters of WTO, the former Minister of Finance, had gained more support to overtake her rival, South Korea’s Ms Yoo Myung-hee.

According to a Tweet from WTO, “as the WTO is on the verge of getting its first female Director-General, we celebrate the Women Pioneers of the Organization.

“These women have made significant contributions to the WTO and have shaped int’l trade as we know it.”

WTO said in 2005, Arancha González became the first woman to serve as a Chief of Staff to a WTO Director-General, working in the cabinet of Pascal Lamy.

Eight years later in 2013, Arancha was appointed as the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre.

Sunanta Kangvalkulkij is the first Asian woman to serve as the Chair of the WTO General Council in 2019, the Organization’s highest-level decision-making body in Geneva, after a year of chairing the WTO’s

Commenting on her appointment process, Okonjo-Iweala, in a recent tweet, lauded her scores of supporters.

“Grateful for the endorsement of my WTO DG bid by such internationally renowned and respected leaders as Mary Robinson, Mo Ibrahim, Aliko Dangote, Strive Masiyiwa, (among others).”

She also assured that the benefits of WTO and of trade must be brought home and made real to the ordinary woman and man on the street.

“Grateful for your endorsement as WTO DG,” she added.

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