WTO DG: How China finally tipped scales in Okonjo-Iweala’s favour

October 27, 2020
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Nigeria’s former finance minister and a former Managing Director of the World Bank, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has emerged as the first female Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), emerging as the first African and the first female to attain the position.

She defeated South Korea’s current trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee in a fierce battle for the coveted job on Monday night.

Her emergence, National Daily is attributed to China’s decisive support after both the EU nations and the United States voted for different candidates, 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 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.

Sources 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 ACP countries in this regard include Bahamas, Cuba, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica Republic, Dominica, Grenada, Fiji, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Timor-Lester, Papua New Guinea, etc.

A combination of this preponderance form about 79 bloc 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.

One of the sources revealed that China quietly changed the game. They said nothing openly but silently they, deftly China voted in Nigeria’s favour.”

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.

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.

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.

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