by Jonathan Nda-Isaiah |
The European Council yesterday reiterated Europe’s support for Nigeria’s Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Michel reaffirmed Europe’s support for the Nigerian council during a video conference with President Muhammadu Buhari, president of the European Council, Mr Charles Michel.
President Buhari is leading Nigeria’s charge for Okonjo-Iweala, the country’s former Minister of Finance, to emerge as the first Black and female WTO DG.
According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, President Buhari thanked the European Council for its support for Nigeria’s candidate.
Adesina said also discussed during the conference were issues bordering on debt relief for Africa, EU-African relations and recharge of the Lake Chad, which has currently shrunk to less than one-third of its usual size, and throwing about 130 million people who depend on the Lake into dire straits.
Success For An International Treasure- Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Recharge of the Lake Chad is an issue the Nigerian President had vigorously canvassed at diverse global fora in recent time.
President Buhari expressed appreciation to Mr Michel for expected positive developments on the issues.
A last minute objection by the United States government had earlier in the week delayed the naming of Okonjo Iweala as the new DG of WTO.
The US, during a meeting of WTO delegates in Geneva, said it won’t back the appointment of Okonjo-Iweala to be the WTO’s next director-general.
US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, pushed for South Korea’s candidate, Yoo Myung-hee, Iweala’s opponent.
Sources said the US viewed Okonjo-Iweala as being too close to pro-trade internationalists in Washington like Robert Zoellick, a former USTR who worked with Okonjo-Iweala when he was president of the World Bank.
Despite the objection, the Nigerian candidate received a key endorsement from the WTO selection committee, which moved her a step closer to becoming the WTO’s first female director-general.
On Monday, she also got the endorsement of the European Union having earlier received the endorsement of the European parliament as well as all the African countries, bringing the number of countries that have endorsed her to 104 out of the 164 members, which gave her a clear lead.
However, all WTO decisions are taken by a consensus of its 164 members, which means the United States’ move will act as a veto that would disrupt the process.
A WTO official however said they would continue to work until consensus is reached ahead of meeting of the general council tentatively set for November 9.