Another boost for Africa’s WTO candidate

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says she has broad experience in championing reform and is the right person to help put the WTO back on track.

28 October 2020 | Economics

I feel the wind behind my back. – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Finance minister: Nigeria

Brussels - Nigerian finance ministrer Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has picked up crucial backing from the European Union, giving her bid to become the first African head of the WTO a major boost.

The World Trade Organisation will announce its new director general next month, but sources said the EU will publicly announce its support for the 66-year-old economist this week.

Okonjo-Iweala was Nigeria's first female finance minister and has long career at the World Bank as a development economist.

She has emerged as the favourite to replace Brazil's Roberto Azevedo at the WTO, and to become the first director general from Africa and the first woman to lead the institution.

There is no leading European candidate for the post this time round, but some of the 27 EU member states backed South Korea's trade minister Yoo Myung-hee, the other candidate still in the race.

A first meeting on Monday failed to find consensus around the choice, but member state representatives reconvened and agreed to back Okonjo-Iweala.

‘MUTUAL TRUST’

One European source said that seven member states had asked that their preference for Yoo be recorded in the statement, but another said backing Okonjo-Iweala was "a clear signal to Africa and a sign of mutual trust".

The WTO's consultation process ended yesterday and the new leader is expected to be named in November.

Okonjo-Iweala earlier this month voiced confidence in her quest to lead the crisis-wracked WTO after all of Africa backed her candidacy, vowing she would champion reform.

"I feel the wind behind my back," she told a virtual press briefing after the 55-member African Union officially supported her over her sole remaining opponent, Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea.

ENGULFED IN CRISES

But at a time when the WTO is engulfed by multiple crises, Okonjo-Iweala stressed that the new chief must above all be highly skilled in political and diplomatic negotiations, as well as at the managerial level.

"The WTO at this time with the challenges it confronts needs a very competent director general who is able to have the political reach and stature to be able to do reforms and deal at very high levels," she said.

"It is not only having those skills, but having them all meet in one person at this juncture when the WTO needs that."

Even before the Covid-19 crisis hit, the WTO was already grappling with stalled trade talks and struggling to curb tensions between the United States and China.

The global trade body has also faced relentless attacks from Washington, which has crippled the WTO dispute settlement appeal system and threatened to leave the organisation altogether.

Okonjo-Iweala said she had broad experience in championing reform and was the right person to help put the WTO back on track.

"I am a reform candidate and I think the WTO needs the reform credentials and skills now."

OTHER SUPPORT

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, and the AU had until now refrained from offering an official endorsement.

Okonjo-Iweala said earlier this month she was thrilled to learn that "all African countries are getting behind me."

In addition, she said, a group of Caribbean and Pacific states had also said they would back her, bringing the number of countries officially endorsing her candidacy to 79.

She also said she felt "optimistic" about her support in Latin America, and said she felt she had gotten "very good traction and good support" in Asia so far.

"I feel quite confident that across the regions, we will be able to attract" support, Okonjo-Iweala added. – Nampa/AFP

Similar News

 

South Africa's business confidence improves

9 hours ago | Economics

South Africa's business confidence improved in the fourth quarter of the year, a survey showed on Wednesday, as easing of Covid-19 lockdowns in the past...

Kenya's economic growth to rebound next year

9 hours ago | Economics

Duncan MiririKenya's economic growth is expected to bounce back next year, the World Bank said on Wednesday, as it emerges from a projected decline in...

Nigerians to slide into further poverty

9 hours ago | Economics

Camille Malplat and Louise Dewast More than 200 million Nigerians will slide further into poverty as the coronavirus pandemic has sent oil prices tumbling and...

Ivory Coast raises 1 billion euros in Eurobond sale

9 hours ago | Economics

Ivory Coast's Eurobond sale this week, sub-Saharan Africa's first of the pandemic era, raised 1 billion euros (US$1.19 billion) and was five times oversubscribed, the...

Kamanjab inmates thirsty, hungry

1 day - 26 November 2020 | Economics

Edward Mumbuu Jnr – About 38 inmates at the Kamanjab police holding cells have apparently been without sufficient food since October and without water for...

Gold smuggling costs Zim US$1.5 bn a year

1 day - 26 November 2020 | Economics

Harare - A report published Tuesday by a global research group estimated that cash-strapped Zimbabwe is losing at least US$1.5 billion a year through the...

Chinese start on roads project in South

1 day - 26 November 2020 | Economics

China Henan International Cooperation Group will undertake an envisaged 35-month project for the rehabilitation and widening of the trunk road between Mariental and Keetmanshoop.The project...

Virus insurance losses to top US$107 billion

3 days ago - 24 November 2020 | Economics

Global insurance losses from the Covid-19 pandemic will be higher this year than the US$107 billion Lloyd's of London had previously estimated, its chairman Bruce...

Africa needs more than world is offering

3 days ago - 24 November 2020 | Economics

Karin Strohecker and Joe Bavier - African countries face another debt crisis and will need more long-term help than the latest G20 debt plan offers...

WTO aiming to net fishing deal

3 days ago - 24 November 2020 | Economics

Agnès Pedrero - Negotiations on banning billions of dollars in fisheries subsidies are coming to the crunch at the beleaguered World Trade Organisation, with the...

Latest News

Kenya's economic growth to rebound...

9 hours ago | Economics

Duncan MiririKenya's economic growth is expected to bounce back next year, the World Bank said on Wednesday, as it emerges from a projected decline in...

Man kills, buries his partner

9 hours ago | Crime

TUYEIMO HAIDULAOKATANAA 36-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a body discovered on Wednesday at Omayanga village in the Okatana Constituency, Oshana Region. The...

Swapo holds on by fingernails

9 hours ago | Politics

TOIVO NDJEBELAWINDHOEKSwapo continued from where it left off with its downward spiral in last year's election by having its hold onto key constituencies and local...

Iipinge taps out

9 hours ago | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKESWINDHOEKOutgoing Walvis Bay Urban constituency councillor Knowledge Iipinge, who has conceded to Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) candidate Florian Donatus Tegako, says his work...

Nigerians to slide into further...

9 hours ago | Economics

Camille Malplat and Louise Dewast More than 200 million Nigerians will slide further into poverty as the coronavirus pandemic has sent oil prices tumbling and...

Hit the ground running

9 hours ago | Opinion

At the time of penning this down yesterday, the tabulation of election results was still under way. It didn’t look like a good day at...

Auto Sueco gunning the future...

9 hours ago | Politics

OGONE TLHAGEwindhoekFrom its humble beginnings in 2004, Auto Sueco Namibia is now a reckoned force in the Extra heavy and heavy commercial vehicle market with...

Ivory Coast raises 1 billion...

9 hours ago | Economics

Ivory Coast's Eurobond sale this week, sub-Saharan Africa's first of the pandemic era, raised 1 billion euros (US$1.19 billion) and was five times oversubscribed, the...

Open defecation remains a problem

9 hours ago | Health

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKIt is estimated that 14% of Namibians living in urban areas practise open defecation, while 77% of people living in rural areas do the...

Load More