Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala to be named WTO DG after US official backing
London, Feb. 6, 2021 (AltAfrica)-Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala closes in on WTO top job after Biden support Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a step closer to becoming the first African and first woman to lead the World Trade Organization, after official backing from the new US government
Following months of uncertainty over the WTO leadership, the United States on Friday said it was now backing Nigeria’s candidate for the top job at the World Trade Organisation, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Okonjo-Iweala welcomed the US official support and said she was looking forward to the conclusion of the race.
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 faced opposition from the US administration of former President Donald Trump after a WTO selection panel recommended her as chief in October, favouring South Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee.
But Ms Myung-hee, earlier on Friday, announced that she was abandoning her bid to lead the international trade body.
“The United States takes note of today’s decision by the Republic of Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee to withdraw her candidacy for Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO),” a statement from the Office of the United States Trade Representative said.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is pleased to express its strong support for the candidacy of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next Director-General of the WTO.
“Dr. 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.
“She is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience managing a large international organization with a diverse membership.”
The embattled Geneva-based body has gone without a director-general since Brazil’s Roberto Azevedo quit a year early in August and his replacement must contend with a Covid-induced recession, US-China tensions and rising protectionism.
Twice Nigeria‘s finance minister and its first woman foreign minister, Okonjo-Iweala has been a trailblazer.
Now the 66-year-old is looking to break another barrier as she bids to become the first African and woman to head the WTO.
Aside from her time in public office, the development economist had a quarter-century at the World Bank — rising to be managing director and running for the top role in 2012.
Born in 1954 in Ogwashi Ukwu, in Delta State, western Nigeria, her father is a traditional ruler. She spent much of her life in the United States, graduating from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard, where she sent her four children.