EU Back Okonjo-Iweala to become first African and first female DG of WTO

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Nigeria's former finance minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been given full backing by 27-member European Union to become the first African and first female director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The EU-member states are France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

The latest support for Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy brings the number of countries officially endorsing her to 106 out of the 164 states that comprise the WTO.

The 55-member African Union had earlier officially supported the former World Bank director over her sole remaining opponent, Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea.

Okonjo-Iweala had also won the goodwill of a group of Caribbean and Pacific States as well as others from Asia.

The European Parliament had endorsed Okonjo-Iweala to head the WTO, saying she is well-equipped.

The Parliament had subsequently written the EU to support the Nigerian candidate.

According to report, EU-member states convened on Monday but failed to find a consensus around the choice. However, the EU representatives reconvened and agreed to back Okonjo-Iweala.

The WTO’s consultation process has ended and the new leader is expected to be named in November but an EU official said the EU will publicly announce its support for the 66-year-old economist, Okonjo-Iweala.

The final winner between the two women will replace Brazil’s Roberto Azevedo and former director-general of the 25-year-old trade organisation.

The initial pool of eight candidates for the WTO’s top post, which has been whittled down over two rounds of consultations, had included three Africans from Nigeria, Egypt and Kenya.

The third and final round of consultations seeking to establish consensus around one candidate has ended, and an announcement of the new DG IS due early November, inspite of the reluctance of the United States of America to support her.

Africh Royale

Africh Royale

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