WTO: US opposed to Okonjo-Iweala’s emergence as DG

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Despite key WTO ambassadors’ support for Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on  Wednesday as the best pick to lead the organization, she is been opposed by Washington, who said it supported South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee instead.

Okonjo-Iweala had emerged winner of the race with support from 104 of all 164 member countries of the WTO.

The so-called troika of ambassadors heading the World Trade Organization’s three main branches determined after four months of consultations with member states that Okonjo-Iweala was the most likely to obtain the consensus needed to take the top job, WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell told reporters.

Countries in support of her candidature include many in Africa and the European Union, where she had received public support.

The initial pool of eight candidates for the WTO’s top post had been whittled down to just two over two previous rounds of consultations, with only Okonjo-Iweala and South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee left in the race.

Despite being an American citizen, sources say the US does not consider Okonjo-Iweala as being committed enough to the interests of the world power at the flagship trade body.

Bryce Baschuk, Bloomberg’s WTO reporter, also tweeted on Wednesday that the US is opposed to Okonjo-Iweala’s emergence and the road forward remains “unclear”.

But the WTO’s 164 member states still need to determine whether they will support her before their next General Council meeting on November 9.

Unlike the World Bank where the US has a larger voting power than other countries, the WTO is run differently, by the consensus of every member country.

“The WTO is run by its member governments. All major decisions are made by the membership as a whole,” the WTO website reads.

“In this respect, the WTO is different from some other international organizations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

“Where consensus is not possible, the WTO agreement allows for voting — a vote being won with a majority of the votes cast and on the basis of ‘one country, one vote’.”