Trump tries to block first African candidate for WTO chief

U.S. rejection throws WTO leadership race into confusion

U.S. rejection throws WTO leadership race into confusion

The U.S. has expressed opposition to Nigerian-born economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the top job at the World Trade Organization, prolonging a selection process that was expected to conclude Wednesday.

The former Nigeria minister received the backing of regional body ECOWAS, the African Union, Caribbean and Pacific States and the European Union, on her way to emerging victor.

Okonjo-Iweala defeated her fellow finalist, Ms Yoo Myung-hee from South Korea by a wide margin for the keenly contested position. "Except for one", WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell told reporters after the closed-door meeting, specifying that the one was the United States.

He said Okonjo-Iweala's victory coming shortly after the re- election of Adesina as the AfDB President, gladdened particularly the PDP who he said brought Nigeria's best heads into government.

The decision needs to be approved by consensus, however, meaning any of the 164 WTO members could block her appointment.

A further meeting will now take place on November 9; after the USA presidential elections to complete the process. By then, Trump may be heading a lame-duck administration.

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The global trade body is thus set to be led by a woman for the first time whichever of the two final candidates succeeds in their bid to follow Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down as WTO director-general in August a year ahead of schedule.

Moon added that she is suitable for the role to adjust the interests of advanced nations and developing ones and successfully carry out the reform of the WTO.

The new director-general also will have to mitigate growing complaints, led by Washington, of China's simultaneous inclusion in the global trade system and its use of state subsidies.

Secondus welcomed what he described as historic emergence of Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigeria's former Finance Minister, as the first female and African D-G of the WTO.

Okonjo-Iweala, who also serves on Twitter's board of directors, as chair of the GAVI vaccine alliance and as a special envoy for the World Health Organization's COVID-19 fight, saw her candidacy get another boost this week when the European Union threw its weight behind her.

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