Tuesday, September 21, 2021

WTO leadership: Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala knows fate today

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The World Trade Organization, WTO, is set to get its first leader from an African nation on Monday.

Senior Nigerian economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, also the first woman to assume the post, is the only remaining candidate for the troubled organization in Geneva.

Her appointment as director-general at a meeting of envoys from the 164 WTO member countries is considered a mere formality.

The previous U.S. administration of President Donald Trump had blocked the appointment process by opposing Okonjo-Iweala.

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Trump’s successor Joe Biden last week threw his weight behind the woman who previously served as Nigerian finance and foreign minister, and as the managing director of the World Bank.

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Okonjo-Iweala prevailed over several other candidates in the months-long WTO leadership race, including South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung Hee, her main rival.

Okonjo-Iweala is set to succeed the Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who left the WTO before the end of his term in August.

He has joined U.S. beverage giant Pepsico as an executive.

The leadership change comes as the WTO is in its deepest crisis since it was founded in 1995.

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The WTO is no longer able to settle trade disputes between countries as the United States has blocked the appointment of appeals judges.

The Trump administration sought reforms of the WTO, without clearly spelling out its demands.

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In addition, free trade talks have been stalled for years, and the WTO now also faces a global economic crisis.


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