Report: EU backs Okonjo-Iweala to lead the WTO

The European Union (EU) has decided to support Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s candidate, for the role of the World Trade Organisation(WTO) director-general, Reuters is reporting.

The news agency quoted an EU official as saying the decision is a strong signal to reinforce the multilateral order and a sign of mutual trust between the bloc and Africa.

Okonjo- Iweala and Yoo Myung-hee, South Korea’s candidate had previously been the EU’s two most preferred candidates in the selection process that began on September 7 when member countries started indicating their preferred candidates.

The European Parliament, the legislative branch of the EU, had also endorsed Okonjo-Iweala, saying her “political approach is needed” to resolve the WTO’s challenges and deal disagreements between its members.

The trade organisation faces dual challenges; criticism from US President Donald Trump’s administration which froze its appeals body by blocking its appointment of judges, and worsening US-China trade relations.

It is expected that the next WTO DG will be announced on November 7.

Okonjo-Iweala and Myung-hee, are vying to be the first female leader in the WTO’s 25-year history, replacing Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down in August; a year before his tenure.

Okonjo-Iweala is a former managing director of the World Bank and two-time minister of finance in Nigeria.

She currently chairs the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) backed by the Bill Gates Foundation.

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