WTO Top Job: US Leaders Write Biden To Back Okonjo-Iweala

January 24, 2021
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By Seun Adeuyi

Some leaders in the United States (US), have written the newly sworn-in President, Joe Biden, urging him to support the candidacy of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the office of the director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The team of former senior US government officials and leaders in academia, civil society, and private sector, in an open letter addressed to Biden said Okonjo-Iweala’s ascension to the office of the DG would send a strong message to the rest of the world that he is leading an inclusive government.

They said Okonjo-Iweala will be the first American woman to lead the WTO.

The letter read partly, “We write to respectfully encourage you to support the candidacy of the eminently qualified Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as she seeks to become the next Director-General of the WTO.

“Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is a dynamic woman of vision who can guide the WTO through its era of reform. She possesses a very rare combination of leadership and experience that is deeply grounded in international trade, finance, economics and diplomacy.

“Her selection, as the first American and woman of color to serve as the WTO’s director-general will send a clear message of inclusion to the rest of the world.”

In October last year, the former Nigeria’s Finance Minister was elected by 110 of 164 countries as the most qualified person to lead the world trade body.

The US opposed her selection, claiming that she does not have trade experience.

In a letter signed by the US leaders, Okonjo-Iweala was however said to possess a “very rare combination of leadership and experience that is deeply grounded in international trade”.

The letter read, “We know Dr. Okonjo-Iweala and have found her to be a woman of integrity, an honest broker and a pragmatist who consistently delivers results.

“We believe strongly that she can be a transformative director-general, one who — with your support — will be embraced and effective within and beyond the WTO.

“In sum, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a uniquely qualified leader poised to help the WTO evolve and succeed for future generations. She is a leader who can also be relied on to pay due attention to the concerns many Americans have about global trade. She has what it takes to lead WTO reforms and take the organization into the future.

“We deeply appreciate any consideration you may provide to her candidacy which is critically important for our nation and the world.”

Muhammadu Buhari-led presidency nominated Okonjo-Iweala as Nigeria’s candidate for the office of the WTO DG.

Okonjo-Iweala became a US citizen in 2019, after living and working in America for over four decades.

At least three Nigerians have been appointed by Biden to his cabinet, including two Nigerian-born American women.

The WTO has postponed the selection process indefinitely.

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