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WTO: Nigeria Woos US, Others to Support Okonjo-Iweala

The Federal Government on Friday said that it was currently reaching out to the United States and other members of the World Trade Organization to clear all bottlenecks to the emergence of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as director-general of the WTO.

The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, who doubles as the Chairperson of the Campaign Strategy Team for Okonjo-Iweala, Amb. Mariam Katagum, disclosed this at an emergency virtual meeting that she convened on Friday.

Katagum and her team met to review and strategise on the way forward in the light of recent developments in the selection process for the appointment of a director-general for the trade organisation.

She said in a statement she personally signed and was made available to our correspondents in Abuja that Nigeria was persuading the United States to adopt the Nigerian candidate as WTO DG following the overwhelming support which Okonjo-Iweala had garnered.

The minister said, “Nigeria is currently reaching out to all members of the WTO including the United States of America and South Korea to overcome the impasse as well as persuade the United States to join the consensus in adopting the recommendation of the appointment of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as DG-WTO.”

The third and final round of consultations for the selection of a DG for the WTO which commenced in Geneva on October 19, 2020 was concluded on October 27, 2020.

The Chairperson, WTO General Council, Amb. David Walker, of New Zealand, with the facilitators of the selection process, among others, on October 28, 2020, at the meeting of WTO Heads of Delegation in Geneva, informed the members of the organisation that Okonjo-Iweala secured overwhelming support of members.

However, the United States registered reservation on the outcome of the final round in view of the fact that its preference was still the candidate of South Korea.

The United States further informed the council that it would not join the consensus in selecting Okonjo Iweala as DG-WTO at the special general council of November 9, 2020.

Meanwhile, the Presidency on Friday quoted the President of the European Council, Mr Charles Michel, as reiterating Europe’s support for the bid of Okonjo-Iweala to become the next director-general of the WTO.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement titled ‘Okonjo-Iweala: President Buhari in video conference with President of European Council’.

Adesina said Michel gave the re-assurance during a video conference the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had with him.

According to the presidential spokesman, issues bordering on debt relief for Africa as well as the recharge of Lake Chad were also discussed.

The Punch

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