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1st March 2021

WTO Job: Buhari Welcomes US Support For Okonjo-Iweala

WTO Job: Buhari Welcomes US Support For Okonjo-Iweala
WTO Job: Buhari Welcomes US Support For Okonjo-Iweala

President Muhammadu Buhari has welcomed the endorsement of Okonjo-Iweala’s candidature for the World Trade Organization, WTO job by the United States of America.

President Buhari who was reacting to the Press statement issued on Friday 5th February 2021, by the office of the United States Trade Representative, which said the newly elected President of the United States, Joe Biden is pleased to express his strong support for the Okonjo-Iweala candidacy for the WTO job, welcomed the decision to remove the last obstacle in the path of Okonjo-Iweala to becoming the first female and the first person of African descent to lead the WTO.

The President in a statement posted on his official Twitter handle on Saturday 6th February 2021, while reacting to the WTO job, was quoted to have said that:

“Nigeria and the entire African continent are happy about this new U.S position, which signifies a shift and an important turnaround in the relations between our continent and the United States under the Biden administration.

Today, we see that the United States stands with Nigeria and Africa with the acceptance of our widely respected citizen, Okonjo-Iweala, to lead the WTO.

We look forward to working very closely with the new U.S administration on this and all issues of common interests, especially in such areas as accelerated economic growth, fight against terrorism and deepening progress on development issues,” he said.

The United States had on Friday, expressed what they called ‘strong support’ for the Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy for the WTO top job, after their favoured candidate Yoo Myung-hee, which they have been backing for the post, especially under the then President Donald Trump administration, announced that she was stepping down her candidature, as she stood no chance in the race.

The United States, under the Trump’s administration, favouring Yoo with other countries including China and European Union all backing Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy, complicated the decision-making process since the selection of a new leader requires all WTO members to agree.

The full statement by the United States reads:

“The United States takes note of today’s decision by the Republic of Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee to withdraw her candidacy for Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The Biden-Harris Administration is pleased to express its strong support for the candidacy of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next Director-General of the WTO.

Dr. 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.

She is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience managing a large international organization with a diverse membership.

The Biden-Harris Administration also congratulates Minister Yoo Myung-hee on her strong campaign for this position.

She is a trailblazer as the Republic of Korea’s first female trade minister and the first candidate from Korea to advance this far in the Director-General selection process.

The United States respects her decision to withdraw her candidacy from the Director-General race to help facilitate a consensus decision at the WTO.

It is particularly important to underscore that two highly qualified women made it to the final round of consideration for the position of WTO Director-General — the first time that any woman has made it to this stage in the history of the institution.

The United States stands ready to engage in the next phase of the WTO process for reaching a consensus decision on the WTO Director-General.

The Biden-Harris Administration looks forward to working with a new WTO Director-General to find paths forward to achieve necessary substantive and procedural reform of the WTO”.

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