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WTO: Biden-Harris administration expresses strong support for Okonjo-Iweala

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 15, 2020 Nigerian former Foreign and Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala looks on, in Geneva, following her hearing before World Trade Organization 164 member states’ representatives, as part of the application process to head the WTO as Director General. – Key WTO ambassadors tapped Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on October 26, 2020 as the best pick to lead the organisation, but she was opposed by Washington, who said it supported South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee instead. 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, paving the way for her to become the first woman and the first African at its helm. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

The Biden-Harris Administration has expressed strong support for the candidacy of Nigeria’s Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, in a statement, said that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is bringing a wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy from her 25 years with the World Bank and two terms as Nigeria’s Finance Minister.

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“She is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience managing a large international organisation with a diverse membership,” the statement read.

This support followed the decision of the Republic of Korea’s Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee to withdraw her candidacy for the post of Director-General of the WTO.

The Biden-Harris administration also congratulated Minister Yoo Myung-hee on her strong campaign for the position, describing her as a trailblazer, being the Republic of Korea’s first female trade minister and the first candidate from Korea to “advance this far in the Director-General selection process.”

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“The U.S. respects her decision to withdraw her candidacy from the director-general race to help facilitate a consensus decision at the WTO.

“It is particularly important to underscore that two highly qualified women made it to the final round of consideration for the position of WTO DG -the first time that any woman has made it to this stage in the history of the institution.

“The U.S. stands ready to engage in the next phase of the WTO process for reaching a consensus decision on the WTO Director-General and the Biden administration looks forward to working with a new WTO DG, to find paths forward to achieve necessary substantive and procedural reforms of the WTO,” the statement said.

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