Friday, November 27, 2020
Okonjo Iweala Emerges DG World Trade Organization

Nigeria’s former finance minister and a former managing director of the World
Bank, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has emerged as the Director-General of the World
Trade Organization (WTO).

Okonjo-Iweala broke the record of emerging as the first African and the first
female to attain the position of DG of WTO by emerging as the finalist after
eliminating South Korea’s current trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee in a fierce
battle for the coveted job on Monday night.

It was gathered that with the EU nations and the United States moving in opposite direction, a move that triggered a deadlock between the two powerful geo-political allies for the first time in many years, it was the decisive and quiet support of China that finally tipped the scales in Okonjo-Iweala’s favour.

The WTO’s Ambassador Walker’s led General Council, the overall organ
responsible for picking the organization’s next DG, would officially announce
the choice of Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Dr Okonjo-Iweala today,
October 27.

It was leant official announcement to this effect would be formally made today by New Zealand’s Ambassador Walker’s led WTO General Council.

The race for the coveted job of DG of WTO has been fierce with Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s serving Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee, running neck-and-neck in the intense jostle and game of global diplomatic intrigues.

Indications had emerged that influential global trading countries including the
United States(US), the European Union(EU) nations, China, Japan and the
BRICS countries were strongly divided on who should be the candidate to lead
the WTO.

The influence of the United States on global trade is reportedly huge as well
given that it single-handedly controls about 12% of global trade just as China
holds about 12.4% of the global trade statistics.

It was also hinted that East Asia countries with the exception of China went along with Myung-hee in preference. These include Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macay, Mongolia and South Korea. Japan, a US ally is another strong international player in global trade with an estimated $705.7 billion worth of goods globally in 2020.

However, on Okonjo-Iweala’s side apart from the EU and 55 AU nations were
24 solid ACP countries that reportedly expressed preference for her candidacy.

The CP countries in this regard include Bahamas, Cuba, Barbados, Guyana,
Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica Republic, Dominica, Greneda, Fiji,
Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Timor-Lester, Parpua New Guinea, etc.

A combination of this preponderance form about 79 block countries that solidly
stood behind Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala. However, it was the quiet and deft
diplomacy of China that sealed the deal in Okonjo-Iweala’s favour.

Okonjo-Iweala, 66, served as Nigeria’s first female finance and later foreign
minister, and has a 25-year career behind her as a development economist and
international finance expert at the World Bank, eventually becoming its number
two. She is also on Twitter’s board of directors and is a special envoy for the
World Health Organization’s COVID-19 fight.

Thus, Okonjo-Iweala has successfully edged out South Korea’s Myung-hee. Yoo
Myung-hee 53, is the serving South Korea’s trade minister, following a long
career in trade, diplomacy, law and foreign affairs. She had previously served
as South Korea’s foreign Affairs minister, among others. A lawyer and diplomat,
Myung-hee holds degrees in Law, Public Policy and was called to the New York
Bar.

One major implication of this is that China has somewhat stamped its feet on
the global diplomatic and economic dynamics as an indispensable power,
having deftly supported Okonjo-Iweala to victory as the US and EU purportedly
cancelled themselves in a diplomatic deadlock.

Already, China is the biggest economy in the world in terms of P3, the Purchasing Power Parity. Thus, the consequence of this on the global scale, according to diplomats, is quite telling.

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