Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

A panel at the World Trade Organisation WTO today recommended Africa’s representative and Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the new Director General of the global trade regulatory body despite objection by the United States of America.

Today’s announcement that Okonjo-Iweala is to be the new director-general of the WTO would have been a tremendous boost for Africa and lines her up for one of the toughest jobs in the international system.

By this announcement, she will be the first woman, and the first African, to lead the institution in its 72 years of existence..

But the US representative at the WTO in a last minute move to scuttle this announcement insists that the South Korea’s candidate remained a contender, and that Washington will not recognise Okonjo-Iweala as the consensus candidate for appointment as director-general.

In response to this, the General Counsel has postponed the official announcement of the new Director-General until a further meeting, which is scheduled for November 9; after the US presidential elections.

It was however gathered that she had won the support from the vast majority of member states of the WTO, including the European Union EU, Japan and China, remaining the United States.

It is expected that after her official announcement on November 9, 2020 as the DG of the agency, she will have to lead the charge for a revival of multilateralism, in the negotiating chambers of the WTO and for a better deal for developing economies, as well as for the practical matter of how reforming trade and patent rules can allow the distribution of life saving vaccines and therapeutics as the coronavirus pandemic rips across the world on its second wave.

Recall that Okonjo-Iweala, who was also Nigeria’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs  had earlier promised to come on board with several trade reforms, especially the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises SMEs sector across board, especially given the negative effects of the novel corona virus pandemic on global trade and commerce.