The federal government Thursday declared its commitment to ensuring the emergence of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Director-General World Trade Organisation (WTO), despite America’s opposition.
The United States on the other hand announced its support for South Korea’s Yoo Myung-Hee.
In a statement in Abuja, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ferdinand Nwonye, said Nigeria would continue to engage relevant stakeholders.
He said the country would ensure the lofty aspiration of her candidate to lead the WTO was realised.
But America cited lack of experience and procedural issues for its stance against Nigeria’s candidate.
The government also made reference to the endorsement of the former finance minister by the majority of the WTO members.
“The candidate from Nigeria, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has secured the support of the majority of the member countries but is yet to be declared and returned the winner. This is because apart from winning the election, all the 164 member-states of WTO were expected to adopt the winner by consensus, in accordance with the rule of procedure of the WTO”, the statement read.
Nwoye said it is important to highlight that the former minister “has secured cross-regional backing with only the United States opposing the consensus.”
A meeting of the General Council of the WTO has been scheduled for November 9, 2020, for the final decision on the election process.
Giving reasons for its opposition, the United States Thursday in a statement by the office of the US Trade Representative, cited lack of experience and procedural issues for its stance.
Okonjo-Iweala had Wednesday secured the vote of 163 of the 164 members of the trade organisation.
The statement reads: “The Office of the United States Trade Representative issued the following statement today on the selection of the next World Trade Organisation Director-General:
“The United States supports the selection of Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee as the next WTO Director-General. Minister Yoo is a bona fide trade expert who has distinguished herself during a 25-year career as a successful trade negotiator and trade policy maker. She has all the skills necessary to be an effective leader of the organisation.
“This is a very difficult time for the WTO and international trade. There have been no multilateral tariff negotiations in 25 years, the dispute settlement system has gotten out of control, and too few members fulfil basic transparency obligations.
“The WTO is badly in need of major reform. It must be led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field.”
On her part, the former finance minister, says she remains positive to become the first African and first female director-general of the world body despite ‘hiccups.’
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.
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.
“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.
Some Nigerians have since likened the US opposition to that encountered by African Development Bank (AfDB) 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.