WTO: Okonjo-Iweala hails support from Buhari, ECOWAS for DG race

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WTO Headquarters

FORMER two time minister of finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and members of the House of Representatives for supporting her candidacy for the position of Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Geneva, Thursday, Okonjo-Iweala, also thanked the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for endorsing her candidacy as the race for the WTO top job enters the selection phase.

She said: “I thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Ndudi Elumelu, and the Nigerian ambassadors to Switzerland, WTO as well as the Permanent Mission to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva.”

Okonjo-Iweala is vying for the top job alongside candidates from Kenya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UK, Moldova, Mexico, and the Republic of Korea.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

All the candidates are in Geneva to make presentations to the WTO General Council and address the press from July 15 – July 17.

On Wednesday, she urged the WTO to elect the next Director General based on merit and noted that given her experience as a development economist, she was best suited for the job.

Addressing the question of what best qualifies her for the job, she replied, “I think the WTO needs leadership. It cannot continue to do what it did before.

”If it’s to stay as one of the premier institutions of the 21st century, it needs strong leadership, which is a quality I have.

”It needs knowledge of trade, which I have for being a development economist, which my entire career is built around. 

“It needs someone with political skills and international connections that can reach policy makers in all countries- and I have that owing my 35 years of experience.

“The job needs someone who listens – and I’m a good listener and lastly, someone who is solution oriented and pragmatic.

”I have experience in all sectors; ranging from the public to private sectors and international civil societies as well as from multilateral organisations.

“If you put all these together, you will see I’m best qualified for the job.”

The second phase of the selection process, in which candidates would make themselves known to members will end on September 7.

On the same day, the third phase, which is the consultation process would commence.

According to NAN, at the forthcoming consultation, Chairman of the General Council alongside Chairs of the Dispute Settlement Body and the Trade Policy Review Body would consult with all the WTO members to determine which candidate is best placed to attract a consensus support.

WTO’s outgoing Director General, Mr Roberto Azevêdo would retire in August after serving two terms of seven years.

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