International Business News Updates

US finally backs Okonjo-Iweala for WTO job

The United States of America finally backs Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to become Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The US Trade Representative’s Office in a statement yesterday 5 February moved out this final hurdle for the Nigerian candidate.

The statement expressed President Joe Biden’s “strong support” for the Nigerian candidate who also holds US citizenship.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala thus emerges as consensus candidate, following the withdrawal yesterday of her remaining rival, South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee.

Here is the full Statement from the Biden Administration:

“The United States takes note of today’s decision by the Republic of Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee to withdraw her candidacy for Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“The Biden-Harris Administration is pleased to express its strong support for the candidacy of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next Director General of the WTO. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala brings a wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy from her 25 years with the World Bank and two terms as Nigerian Finance Minister. She is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience managing a large international organization with a diverse membership.

“The Biden-Harris Administration also congratulates Minister Yoo Myung-hee on her strong campaign for this position. She is a trailblazer as the Republic of Korea’s first female trade minister and the first candidate from Korea to advance this far in the Director General selection process. The United States respects her decision to withdraw her candidacy from the Director General race to help facilitate a consensus decision at the WTO.

“It is particularly important to underscore that two highly qualified women made it to the final round of consideration for the position of WTO Director General — the first time that any woman has made it to this stage in the history of the institution.

“The United States stands ready to engage in the next phase of the WTO process for reaching a consensus decision on the WTO Director General. The Biden Administration looks forward to working with a new WTO Director General to find paths forward to achieve necessary substantive and procedural reform of the WTO.”

The imminent emergence of a first female and first black person to head the WTO has tickled the imagination of reform advocates and media worldwide.