As nominations for the Office of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) officially comes to an end, the eight nominees from different countries who had indicated interests in replacing the outgoing DG, Azevedo, who will be stepping down on August 31, 2020 appear before WTO members to share their visions.
Nominees are expected to answer questions from the General Council (involving all its member states) and the Press between 15-17 July, 2020. Several rounds of consultations will follow until a consensus is announced. The DG’s role is expected to be primarily advisory, managerial and renewable after 4 years
Interestingly, Nigeria, one of the founding members of the international trade negotiation and dispute settlement body established on January 1, 1995, is also fielding its former finance and foreign affairs minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as a replacement for the incumbent DG, Roberto Azevêdo, who steps down on August 31, 2020.
NOI (as she is fondly called) is a global financial expert, economist and international development professional spanning, three decades of experience. She was twice appointed Nigeria’s Finance Minister and briefly, Foreign Affairs Minister. The first woman to occupy both positions.
She rose through the ranks of the World Bank, having served for almost 25 years to the position of No 2, Managing Director, Operations.
She is Chair to a lot of boards….
Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
Chair, Board of AU African risk capacity
Member, South Africa Economic Recovery Team
Member, Boards of Standard Chartered Bank Plc and Twitter Inc.
Co-Chair, Global Commission on the Economy and Climate
Angelopolous Global Public Leader at Havard Kennedy School, etc.
She is a recipient of many awards at both the National and Global Stage.
Other candidates are Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt), Amina Mohamed (Kenya), Jesús Kuri (Mexico), Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova), Yoo Myung-hee (Korea), Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri (Saudi Arabia), and Liam Fox (UK).
Nigeria’s candidate and ex-director of World Bank will on Wednesday afternoon by 3pm, meet with WTO members to share her vision for the organisation. During the meeting, members will also have the opportunity to ask her questions and generally evaluate her suitability for the job.
Okonjo Iweala’s spokesperson, Paul Nwabuikwu, said that the Harvard graduate has been “incredibly busy preparing for the meeting”.
Since the WTO was created in 1995, three of its directors-general were from Europe, while one each came from Oceania, Asia and South America.
Africa fancies its chances this time, even though there is no regional rotation principle at the global trade body.
Though no female or African has occupied the seat since the inception of the organisation, Okonjo-Iweala hopes to break that record.