Now alone in the running, Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala should take the reins of the WTO. In the midst of the economic and institutional crisis, many cases await him.
This would be great news for Africa, and a double first: the Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is indeed alone in the running to become the new patron of the World Trade Organization (WTO). If she goes to the end, the former Minister of Finance, who was also the head of Foreign Affairs, would be the first African and the first woman to take the general direction of the international institution.
It took patience for the Nigerian: approached to take office on November 9, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had obtained the approval of an overwhelming majority of countries. However, one of the 164 member countries of the WTO had vetoed it: Donald Trump's United States. Without consensus, the appointment was therefore postponed, the White House proposing to place the South Korean Yoo Myung-hee at the head of the institution.
A veto from the Trump administration
But the arrival of Joe Biden at the White House has reshuffled the cards. Just two weeks after the handover from Trump to Biden, the South Korean minister decided to step down from the WTO leadership race. She therefore leaves the field open to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, whom nothing seems to be able to stop.
To be appointed Director General of the WTO, a consensus must be found between the various member countries of the organization. An institution in which the United States obviously has weight. Donald Trump's refusal was therefore taken into account. And even if time was running out - the WTO is going through both an economic and institutional crisis - it was decided to postpone the appointment “until further notice”. Understand, until the foreseeable departure of Donald Trump from the White House.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: "I am a candidate for reform"
Now alone in the running, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala should therefore logically take the lead of the WTO. With delicate sites. At the time of the discussions, in November, the Trump administration explained the stakes of the appointment of a new director general: “It is a very difficult period for the WTO and international trade. There have been no multilateral tariff negotiations for 25 years, the dispute settlement system has spiraled out of control and too few members meet basic transparency obligations ”.
The WTO therefore has, according to the United States, "badly in need of a major reform". No one today can contradict this assertion of the Trump administration. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will arrive in a difficult context of economic war between the United States and China. And the Nigerian says she is ready to embark on the race for reforms. "I am a candidate for reform and I think that the WTO now needs benchmarks and skills in the field of reform," she explained recently. Before indicating that a Director General of the WTO must show "daring" and "courage".