Key Group, WTO Ambassadors Propose Okonjo-Iweala to become DG

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… US Opposes Okonjo-Iweala as Consensus Candidate

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been proposed by a key group of World Trade Organisation (WTO) ambassadors to lead the trade organisation on Wednesday, clearing a path for her to become the first woman and African to head the global watchdog in its 25-year history.

It was earlier reported that the candidacy of the former World Bank director received a huge boost on Monday when the 27-member states of the European Union pledged their support to her.
Also, the 55-member African Union had supported the former Nigerian finance minister over her sole remaining opponent, Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea.

Okonjo-Iweala had also won the goodwill of a group of Caribbean and Pacific States as well as others from Asia.

However, the United States has opposed the consensus selection of Okonjo-Iweala as the new director-general of the World Trade Organisation.

The US affirmed that it supported South Korean Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee, who is Okonjo-Iweala’s opponent in the race to lead the WTO.

WTO spokesman, Keith Rockwell, was quoted by AFP as saying 27 delegations had taken the floor during Wednesday’s meeting.

“One delegation could not support the candidacy of Dr. Ng0zi and said they would continue (supporting) South Korean minister Yoo. That delegation was the United States of America,” he explained.

Rockwell, however, said Wednesday’s meeting “was never intended to make a final decision on our next DG.”

“That decision can only be taken by the General Council,” he added.

With the US’ opposition, the WTO’s 164 member states still need to decide finally, whether they will support Okonjo-Iweala before their next General Council meeting on November 9.

The official announcement is expected to be made by the WTO anytime from now.

The final winner between the two women will replace Brazil’s Roberto Azevedo and former director-general of the WTO.