WTO: US Clears Pathway For Okonji-Iweala

Image result for former Nigerian Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Yemisi Izuora

A former Nigerian Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has expressed gratitude to the Joe Biden administration after eventually receiving the backing of the United States government for her candidacy to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Okonjo-Iweala will become the first African and first female to lead the global trade organization.

The Biden administration on Friday had stated that the US would support Okonjo-Iweala as the next director-general of the WTO. The announcement came a few hours after South Korea’s trade minister, Yoo Myung-hee stepped out of the race. The Biden administration’s decision is the last hurdle standing in the way of Okonjo-Iweala assuming the top job at the WTO; especially after the South Korea candidate pulled out.

Okonjo-Iweala was supported by a majority of WTO members. However, the Trump administration had adamantly backed Ms. Yoo, saying she was better qualified.

In a statement, the US Trade Representative’s office said that Okonjo-Iweala “brings a wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy from her 25 years with the World Bank and two terms as Nigerian Finance Minister.”

“It is particularly important to underscore that two highly qualified women made it to the final round of consideration for the position of WTO Director General—the first time that any woman has made it to this stage in the history of the institution,” the statement said.

Okonjo-Iweala had quickly reacted to the thrilling development.

The Nigerian-American economist and international development expert had taken to her verified handle on the micro-blogging site, Twitter; where she thanked the US government as well as the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for their support.

‘‘Grateful for the expression of support from the US today for DG @WTO. Congratulations to Madam Yoo of Rep. Korea for a hard fought campaign. Thank You President Muhammadu Buhari @MBuhari & all Nigerians for your unflinching support. Thank you friends. Love to my family. Glory to God.’’

Grateful for the expression of support from the US today for DG @WTO. Congratulations to Madam Yoo of Rep. Korea for a hard fought campaign.Thank You President Muhammadu Buhari @MBuhari &all Nigerians for your unflinching support.Thank you friends. Love to my family.Glory to God.

— Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (@NOIweala) February 5, 2021

Okonjo-Iweala’s assumption of the role is expected to be ratified at the WTO general council meeting in March.

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