The United States is blocking the appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next head of the World Trade Organisation. This comes after Okonjo-Iweala’s majority win. She received a backing of the WTO’s 164 members.
Okonjo-Iweala had always been the favored pick for the post. She was closer to becoming the first woman and the first African to be director of the global trade powerhouse after securing the support of a key group of trade ambassadors in Geneva.
Sources said Ngozi was backed by countries in the Caribbean, Africa, the European Union, China, Japan and Australia. However, her candidacy failed to win the support of the United States, which raised last-minute objections.
The major reason given for the opposition is that Yoo Myung Hee is more suited for the job.
Okonjo-Iweala was the former foreign minister of Nigeria, the former two-time finance minister, the former assistant director of World Bank, she seats on the board of Twitter, etc.
By tradition, the WTO chooses its director general by consensus, with all 164 members having to approve a candidate. The US has been unhappy with the way the WTO has operated for some time, objecting to China’s designation as a developing country and blocking the appointment of new judges to the organisation’s appeals body.
A WTO spokesman said her candidacy would be put to a meeting of the body’s governing general council on 9 November.
Trade experts said it would be difficult for an appointment to be made against the wishes of the US.
Call it de ja vu, but this also happened during the Obama Administration. President Barack Obama nominated a less qualified Jim Yong Kim as the next president of the World Bank in place of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Dr Kim’s nomination was heavily influenced by Hillary Clinton, who rightly admires his grassroots work on Aids and other diseases.
The United States interests seem to be superseding qualifications.