Washington: The US has “expressed its strong support” for Nigeria’s former Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to be the next Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) announced.
“Okonjo-Iweala brings a wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy from her 25 years with the World Bank and two terms as Nigerian Finance Minister,” Xinhua news agency quoted the USTR’s Office as saying in a statement on Friday.
“She is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience managing a large international organization with a diverse membership.
“The US stands ready to engage in the next phase of the WTO process for reaching a consensus decision on the WTO Director General,” the Office said further in the statement.
The USTR’s Office added that President Joe Biden’s administration looks forward to working with a new WTO chief to find paths forward to “achieve necessary substantive and procedural reform” of the organization.
The statement came after South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee earlier in the day withdrew her candidacy for the post of the WTO chief.
Yoo was one of the two finalists for the head post of the Geneva-based trade body, together with Okonjo-Iweala.
“The US respects her decision to withdraw her candidacy from the Director-General race to help facilitate a consensus decision at the WTO,” the USTR’s Office added in the statement.
If selected, Okonjo-Iweala will become the first woman and African to head the global trade watchdog in its 25-year history.
The WTO’s leadership vacuum was created after its former chief Roberto Azevedo stepped down on August 31, a year before the end of his official term.
The Organization is currently being steered by four deputies.