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Money Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in a good position to take the lead of the World Trade Organization

18:50  26 october  2020
18:50  26 october  2020 Source:   francetvinfo.fr

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The former Nigerian minister has already secured official support from 79 countries out of the 164 member states of the multilateral organization. She says she is confident to be appointed to the head of the WTO against her competitor, the Korean, Yoo Myung-hee.

  La Nigériane Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala en bonne position pour prendre la tête de l’Organisation mondiale du commerce © Provided by Franceinfo

We will know no later than November 7, 2020 the name of the one who will replace the Brazilian Roberto Azevêdo at the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO). We already know that it will be a woman and maybe an African. In the final WTO leadership race, two candidates remain in contention, Korea's Yoo Myung-hee and Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Nigeria’s former finance minister has already won the support of 54 African Union countries, many European Union countries and Latin America. China and the United States have not yet spoken officially but for the final decision, the great powers are weighing all their weight. The result of the American election on November 3 could influence the position of the United States in extremis.

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Imposing curriculum

Born in 1954 in Ogwashi-Ukwu, in the Niger Delta, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has spent most of her life in the United States, where she studied at two prestigious universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT ) and Harvard. Twice Nigeria's Finance Minister, Ms. Okonjo-Iweala began her career at the World Bank in 1982, where she worked for 25 years. His curriculum vitae is impressive. It will be needed to restore a multilateral organization which is going through a serious historic crisis.

Several personalities signed a declaration of support for his candidacy, notably the Europeans Jean-Claude Juncker (ex-president of the EU) and the former heads of state Horst Köhler (Germany), Romano Prodi (Italy) or Felipe Gonzalez (Spain). "The role of the WTO must now be strengthened in order to counter the forms of protectionism and unilateralism which are dramatically affecting the multilateral system", say the signatories according to whom the appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala "will give a boost to the efforts of the African continent to occupy a place in international trade which corresponds to its real weight and its potential ”.

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I am the reform candidate (…) I feel the wind behind my back

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, candidate for the WTO leadership

During a press briefing reported by AFP

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala explained during a videoconference press briefing why she believes she is the right person to get the WTO out of the difficulties it finds itself in because of its statutes, the virulent attacks of the Trump administration, but also doubts on multilateralism and the liberalization of international trade in times of pandemic.

If chosen, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala gives himself two priorities to show that the WTO is essential. It hopes to be able to present an agreement on fisheries subsidies, currently being discussed in Geneva, in mid-2021, to demonstrate that the WTO can still produce multilateral advances. The other priority is to rebuild the dispute settlement body, the WTO tribunal that was torpedoed by the Trump administration.

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Time for Africa

The WTO "needs a very competent Director General who is able to have the political contacts and stature to be able to implement reforms and negotiate at a very high level. level both in capitals and in Geneva, ”she said, hinting that she had“ the right mix of qualities ”.

She is facing a high level opponent. At 53, Yoo Myung-hee is the first South Korean to have headed the Ministry of Commerce. In 1995, she took charge of the WTO dossier at the South Korean Ministry of Commerce and then led the negotiations on free trade agreements, in particular the one linking China to South Korea. She also worked at the South Korean Embassy in China (2007-2010).

South African and current AU President Cyril Ramaphosa said he was optimistic about the chances of the African candidate, whose "leadership would contribute to the full integration of the continent as an important player in the trading system global ".

Africa is to date the only continent to have never led the WTO.

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