The United States has put forth the reasons behind its opposition of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s election as the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
This was disclosed in a statement released by the office of the US trade representative on Wednesday in which the USA said the WTO is in dire need of reform and must be “led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field”.
“The United States supports the selection of Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee as the next WTO Director-General,” the USTR, led by Robert Lighthizer (pictured above), said.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, OKONJO-IWEALA EMERGES DG OF WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION
“Minister Yoo is a bona fide trade expert who has distinguished herself during a 25-year career as a successful trade negotiator and trade policy maker. She has all the skills necessary to be an effective leader of the organization.
“This is a very difficult time for the WTO and international trade. There have been no multilateral tariff negotiations in 25 years, the dispute settlement system has gotten out of control, and too few members fulfill basic transparency obligations.
“The WTO is badly in need of major reform. It must be led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field.”
DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN CHECK LIVE EXCHANGE RATES ON ABOKI FX?
Since the race for the role began, Okonjo-Iweala has always faced the argument that she has no direct trade experience. However, the former minister of finance refuted the claims while addressing the WTO in July.
She said, “I am a development economist and you cannot do that without looking at trade. Trade is a central part of development. So, I have been doing it. My whole career at the World Bank, I was working on trade policy reform in middle and low-income countries at the bank.”
“As finance minister, the customs service in my country reported to me. And that is all about trade facilitation. I helped my country’s negotiation with my trade minister on the ECOWAS common external tariffs. I don’t know how much more trade you can have than that.
“So those who say I don’t have trade experience, they are mistaken. I think the qualities I have are even better, because I combine development economics with trade knowledge, along with finance, and you need those combination of skills to lead the WTO. I think I have the skills that are needed. I am a trade person.”
On Wednesday, Okonjo-Iweala had won the popular vote to become the next DG and was endorsed by the three ambassadors designated to select the next leader of the trade body.
However, the US expressed opposition to her election at a WTO delegates meeting to discuss the appointment, making the US the only country opposing her election.
Keith Rockwell, the spokesman of the WTO, said just one member country did not support Okonjo-Iweala.
“All of the delegations that expressed their views today expressed very strong support for the outcome, except for one,” he said.
The WTO will reconvene on November 9, 2020, after the US elections to decide who becomes the next DG.