WTO: US expresses support for Okonjo-Iweala

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The United States of America has expressed its endorsement of the candidacy of Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, as the next Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The US under the leadership of President Donald Trump, last October, had expressed its opposition to Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy in the wake of  a high-powered WTO panel had recommended her to lead the organization as the first African and first woman to head the WTO.

However, a statement by the Office of the United States Trade Representative said the Biden-Harris Administration believes Okonjo-Iweala would bring “a wealth of Knowledge in economics and international diplomacy from her 25 years with the World Bank and two terms as Nigerian Finance Minister” to the leadership of the WTO.

According to the statement, “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).

“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 Biden-Harris Administration also congratulates Minister Yoo Myung-hee on her strong campaign for this position.  She is a trailblazer as the Republic of Korea’s first female trade minister and the first candidate from Korea to advance this far in the Director General selection process.  The United States respects her decision to withdraw her candidacy from the Director General race to help facilitate a consensus decision at the WTO.

“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 United States stands ready to engage in the next phase of the WTO process for reaching a consensus decision on the WTO Director General.  The Biden-Harris Administration looks forward to working with a new WTO Director General to find paths forward to achieve necessary substantive and procedural reform of the WTO.”

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