WTO: Okonjo-Iweala Hopeful After Biden’s Inauguration

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says she remains hopeful that she will be announced as the next Director General of the World Trade Organisation after Joe Biden becomes the next president of the United States.

Iweala had come close to the coveted position after securing support from several countries, but a last-minute objection from the US stalled proceedings, with the Trump administration calling for “someone with real experience in trade”.

Iweala said she was looking forward to leading the organisation after Biden’s inauguration and taking on the “very challenging international assignment.”

“Because of the rules that they have to agree everything by consensus, if a country doesn’t join the consensus then sometimes it becomes difficult. In this case the United States did not join for reasons that no one can really understand.”

“The majority of the 162 countries were in a consensus behind my candidacy. But let’s look forward, we are very hopeful that with the new administration coming in, we can begin to finalise this aspect of the DG WTO position,” Iweala said.

The experienced economist, formerly Nigeria’s finance minister and Managing Director of the World Bank, admitted to “having butterflies” as the race for the job reached its climax.

“It was a very difficult race, it took place over five months and when I started it, I was very honoured to be nominated by the country and then by the continent,” she said.

“I didn’t know it would be so gruelling. It was a very tough competition over five months with different stages. There were times I had butterflies in my stomach about whether I was going to make it.”

“It was a bit tough, but thank God we made it.”


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