Business

Why we reject Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as WTO Director General-US

Why we reject Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as WTO Director General-US

The United States has explained why it opposed Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the consensus candidate to lead the WTO.

According to the US, supporting South Korean trade minister, Yoo Myung-hee, to become the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation is because she is a “trade expert”.

US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, explained that the US was opposing Okonjo-Iweala, who gained American citizenship in 2019, because WTO needs “someone with real, hands-on experience in the field”.

The office of the US trade representative released a statement saying; 

“The United States supports the selection of Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee as the next WTO Director-General. 

“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.”

 On her part, Okonjo-Iweala, while addressing the WTO in July, had asserted that she is a trade expert.

Her words: “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, 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 combinations of skills to lead the WTO. I think I have the skills that are needed. I am a trade person.”

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