Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has emerged the New World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General.
The former Nigeria Finance Minister polled 104 Votes out Of 164 member countries to defeat South Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, at the final stage of the race to become the First African and Woman to emerge WTO Director General.
Official announcement is expected today, October 28th and the swearing-in is expected to take place on the 7th of November at the WTO Headquarters, in Geneva, Switzerland.
Dr Okonjo Iweala, 66, replaces the Brazilian Roberto Azevêdo, who informed members on May 14 that he would be stepping down from his post, one year before the expiry of his mandate. He subsequently left office on August 31.
She was nominated by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari for the position on June 5, 2020.
The WTO usually arrives at its DG by consensus.
In early October, the WTO selected two final candidates — Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee from a pool of eight — to advance to the final round in the race to lead the Geneva-based trade body.
The third and final phase of the consultation process was scheduled to begin in late October and run until November 6.
The former Nigeria minister received the backing of regional body ECOWAS, the African Union, Caribbean and Pacific States, the European Union and flurry of critical segment endorsements including the three- member WTO selection committee, on her way to emerging winner.
Initial reports suggest that the United States didn’t endorse Dr. Okonjo Iweala and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had been reported to be pushing for South Korea’s candidate, Yoo Myung-hee, even though Okonjo-Iweala gained U.S. citizenship in 2019.
It is unclear why a winner is emerging now, barely one week to the US Presidential polls.
The new boss of the WTO will be tasked with overseeing much needed reforms, steer the trading world through a post-COVID recession, clinch multilateral deals, manage rising protectionism and navigate the trade war between China and the United States.