• Wednesday, December 06, 2023
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Okonjo Iweala gets European backing for WTO top job says Reuters

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, coordinating minister for the economy (CME) and minister of finance

The European Union is backing former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to head the World Trade Organization, sending a signal of trust in Africa, an EU official said on Monday.

Okonjo-Iweala and South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee are vying to be the first female leader in the WTO’s 25-year history, replacing Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who quit a year earlier than expected at the end of August.

Read also: WTO: FG reaches out to the United States, WTO members for Okonjo-Iweala

The EU’s support for her is considered a strong signal to reinforce the multilateral order and a sign of mutual trust between the bloc and Africa, the official said.

The WTO faces dual challenges: criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration which froze its appeals body by blocking its appointment of judges, and worsening U.S.-China trade relations.

Okonjo-Iweala, 66, a previous Nigerian foreign minister, is an economist and development specialist serving as board chair of global vaccine alliance Gavi. She wants the WTO to help poorer countries access COVID-19 drugs and vaccines.