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UPDATED: Coast ‘clear’ for Okonjo-Iweala to be named WTO DG

UPDATED: Coast ‘clear’ for Okonjo-Iweala to be named WTO DG
October 28
12:43 2020

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s nominee for the office of the director-general of the World Trade Organisation, is set to clinch the job after securing wide support from most member states.

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TheCable can report that Okonjo-Iweala was chosen as the final candidate for the much-coveted role by a key group of ambassadors.

However, a consensus among the 164 WTO members is needed to seal her choice.

Before the final vote, she had secured the support of 110 of the 164 member countries and was set to defeat South Korea’s trade minister, Yoo Myung-hee, at the final stage of the race.

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She has broken many records, including becoming the first African to occupy that office at the WTO.

The official announcement is expected to be made by the WTO at any time after its head of delegates meeting at 3pm Nigerian time.

US ‘OPPOSES’ OKONJO-IWEALA’S EMERGENCE

Despite wide support for  Okonjo-Iweala, the US has reportedly expressed its opposition to her emergence.

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Bryce Baschuk, Bloomberg’s WTO reporter, tweeted on Wednesday that the US is opposed to Okonjo-Iweala’s emergence and the road forward remains “unclear”.

Bloomberg had initially reported that the US was leaning towards Yoo Myung-hee, the South Korean candidate.

Despite being an American citizen, sources say the US does not consider Okonjo-Iweala as being committed enough to the interests of the world power at the flagship trade body.

The heads of delegation of the WTO are to meet by 3pm and decide on the way forward.

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WHAT NEXT?

Unlike the World Bank where the US has a larger voting power than other countries, the WTO is run differently, by the consensus of every member country.

“The WTO is run by its member governments. All major decisions are made by the membership as a whole,” the WTO website reads.

“In this respect, the WTO is different from some other international organizations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

“Where consensus is not possible, the WTO agreement allows for voting — a vote being won with a majority of the votes cast and on the basis of ‘one country, one vote’.”

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While the votes are essential, they are not the last piece of the puzzle on who leads the WTO.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct some errors of fact in the initial report.

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