Tag Archives: World Trade Organization

Despite objection from US, WTO Electoral Council backs Okonjo-Iweala as preferred candidate to head  organisation

The World Trade Organisation’s Council has finally broken its silence on the preference of Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the new DG of the organisation.

The council posted on its website today that Dr Iweala remains the favourite of all members to lead the organisation despite the objection of the US.

General Council Chair, David Walker of New Zealand and his two co-facilitators in the selection process to choose the WTO’s next Director-General told the organization’s members on 28 October that based on their consultations with all delegations the candidate best poised to attain consensus and become the 7th Director-General was Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria.

“She clearly carried the largest support by Members in the final round and she clearly enjoyed broad support from Members from all levels of development and all geographic regions and has done so throughout the process. I am therefore submitting the name of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the candidate most likely to attract consensus and recommending her appointment by the General Council as the next Director-General of the WTO until 31 August 2024,” Amb. Walker said.

Amb. Walker stressed at a Heads of Delegation meeting on 28 October that this was the assessment of the “troika” of facilitators and that a formal decision had to be taken by the members at a General Council meeting, which he has scheduled for 9 November. The General Council is the WTO’s pre-eminent decision making body, save for the Ministerial Conference which normally meets every two years.

But the assessment was challenged by the United States which said it would continue to support Minister Yoo and could not back the candidacy of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Amb. Walker said members had expressed their views to him, Amb. Dacio Castillo (Honduras) and Amb. Harald Aspelund (Iceland) during the third and final stage of consultations from 19 to 27 October.

The General Council chair explained that since the process to replace former Director-General Roberto Azevêdo began, the ultimate objective of this measured and clearly defined selection process has been to secure a consensus decision by members. He praised the membership for their adherence to the guidelines and for their robust participation in the exercise.

“The entire membership remained fully engaged in and committed to this process. The facilitators and I are grateful for this consistently very positive response. Throughout the process it has been clear that all Members have attached the greatest importance to this appointment,” said Amb. Walker.

He paid tribute to all eight of the candidates who participated in the DG selection process and in particular to Yoo Myung-hee of the Republic of Korea who had advanced to the third round in this process.

“Ms Yoo has vast experience which she has acquired in a number of leading positions and her outstanding qualifications are highly valued by all Members.”

The General Council agreed on 31 July that there would be three stages of consultations held over a two-month period commencing on 7 September.

During these confidential consultations, the field of candidates was narrowed from eight to five and then two as Amb. Walker, Amb. Castillo, chair of the Dispute Settlement Body, and Amb. Aspelund, chair of the Trade Policy Review Body, posed a single question to each delegation: “What are your preferences?”

The consultation process taken by facilitators has been set by guidelines established by the General Council in a 2002 decision. According to these guidelines, the key consideration in determining which candidate is best poised to achieve consensus is the “breadth of support” each candidate receives from the members.

During the DG selection processes of 2005 and 2013, breadth of support was defined as “the distribution of preferences across geographic regions and among the categories of Members generally recognized in WTO provisions: that is (Least developed countries), developing countries and developed countries”. The Chair said he and his colleagues were guided by the practices established in these General Council proceedings and he further explained that the decisions made clear that “breadth of support means the larger membership”.

The process for selecting a new Director-General was triggered on 14 May when former Director-General Mr Azevêdo informed WTO members he would be stepping down from his post one year before the expiry of his mandate.

He subsequently left office on 31 August. Amb. Walker immediately proceeded with the procedures for the appointment of the Director-General that were agreed under the 2002 guidelines. These guidelines require the General Council Chair to begin consultations with members on DG selection as soon as possible and “may establish expedited deadlines as necessary in consultation in Members”.

WTO: Despite her emergence, US blocks Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was slated to be the new Director-General of the World Trade Organization. She will be the first woman, and the first African, to lead the institution. But there was an unexpected glitch in the process.

But in a last ditch move, the United States representative at World Trade Organization took to the floor to insist that South Korea’s candidate remained a contender, and that Washington will not recognise Okonjo-Iweala as the consensus candidate for appointment as director-general.

In response to this, the General Counsel has postponed its announcement of the new Director-General until a further meeting, which is scheduled for 9 November; after the US presidential elections.

A panel at the WTO recommended her today for the position.

Today’s announcement that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is to be the new director-general of the World Trade Organization would have been a tremendous boost for Africa and lines her up for one of the toughest jobs in the international system.

Our sources in Geneva say that she had won the support from the vast majority of member states, including the EU, Japan and China, but not the United States.

She will have to lead the charge for a revival of multilateralism, in the negotiating chambers of the WTO and for a better deal for developing economies, as well as for the practical matter of how reforming trade and patent rules can allow the distribution of life saving vaccines and therapeutics as the coronavirus pandemic rips across the world on its second wave.

Okonjo-Iweala Makes Strong Case for Africa, Woman DG at WTO Conference

Nigeria’s former minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is running for the office of the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) yesterday appeared at a press conference held as part of the selection process towards the appointment of the next DG of the global organization at the WTO headquarter in Geneva.

The session consisted of a presentation to the General Council encompassing the 164 members of the WTO and was followed by a 30-minute press conference. Okonjo-Iweala in her presentation made a strong case for an African candidacy. She also pushed for a woman to occupy the DG role.

One of the questions Okonjo-Iweala was asked was what she would tell the American President with respect to getting the US to remain part of the WTO with the body having been criticized by the incumbent Donald Trump as being unfair to US interests.

To this Dr, Okonjo-Iweala affirmed, “I would say to the president that the WTO delivered for all countries, including the United States in the past. It is because of the multilateral rules-based trading system that we have had prosperity and lifting of millions out of poverty, and it’s been shared prosperity.

“We could do it again. I would say to him or him that where the trading system has failed, we need to fix it so that it can be more inclusive, it can benefit more people.”