Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s candidate, for the role of the World Trade Organisation(WTO) director-general, is on the brink of landing the plum job as her aspiration receives another boost following European Union expression of support for her candidacy.
Reuters 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.