Despite the veto by United States against the WTO’s effort to select its first female leader through consensus adoption of Dr.Okonjo- Iweala as DG, WTO, there has been a renewed optimism amongst different stakeholders that Dr.Okonjo-Iweala will ultimately clinch the top job at WTO.
A WTO nominations committee which is responsible for the selection of the next chief of the global trade organization had recommended the appointment of Dr.Okonjo-Iweala for the position, stating that she, and not the Korean opponent is most likely to secure a consensus among the membership.
Regrettably, the U.S. insists that it would continue to back South Korea’s Trade Minister, YooMyung-hee and that Washington will not recognize Okonjo-Iweala as the consensus candidate.
But the Nigerian Government has expressed confidence about Okonjo’s eventual appointment, and according to the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Katagum, the Chairperson of the Campaign Strategy Team for Okonjo-Iweala, “Nigeria is currently reaching out to all members of the WTO including the United States of America and South Korea to overcome the impasse as well as persuade the United States to join the consensus in adopting the recommendation of the appointment of Dr NgoziOkonjo-Iweala as DG-WTO.”
Meanwhile, Dr.Okonjo-Iweala has secured endorsements from the African Union, the Caribbean and Pacific States, European Union, Japan and China. From feedbacks, she had won a broader backing of 163 out of 164 Member States, except the United States of America.
The U.S.’s lone resistance to the majority-backed Okonjo-Iweala opens the possibility of months of gridlock over the selection process and more diplomatic friction with trading partners like the European Union, and may now get tangled into American politics as the U.S. election, which falls on November 3, now becomes a key factor in the WTO race.
The WTO has however, reassured that it will keep working to reach a consensus ahead of the General Council meeting tentatively set for November 9, with the possibility of recourse to a vote to select the next WTO Director-General, which Dr.Okonjo-Iweala would very likely win by a qualified majority, but such development would be unprecedented for a consensus-oriented WTO.
Dr.Okonjo-Iweala remains positive of clinching the top job as the seventh head of the global trade group despite opposition from the United States, saying she felt humbled to have been declared the candidate with the largest votes amongst the 164 member states of the 25-year-old global trade organization.