European Parliament endorses Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for WTO Director-General job

The European Parliament (EP) has passed former World Bank Managing Director, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala fit for the position of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The EP’s Steering Group of the Parliamentary Conference of the World Trade Organisation (PCWTO) said it was convinced by her vision for the future of multilateralism.

Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala alongside South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee made it through on October 8 as finalists for the Director-General position of the Organisation.

In a statement co-signed and released by the Co-Chair of the PCWTO Steering Group, Sven Simon on Wednesday, the EP said that Okonjo-Iweala’s assessment and vision for tackling the existing challenges bedevilling the Organisation set her out as the right candidate for the role.

Simon made the statement available on the micro-blogging platform, Twitter on Wednesday, certifying Okonjo-Iweala.

On Monday, the EP organised exchanges of views between both candidates, where they both gave extensive accounts of their plans and approaches to improving multilateral trade systems.

While lauding both candidates for their experience and vision for the future and priorities of the WTO, the Steering Group said its decision was on the back of the priorities laid out by the Nigerian.

It said, “During the discussions, we appreciated in particular the vision that Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala presented for tackling the substantial challenges the organisation is facing.

“Her assessment of the existing problems of the organisation revealed a deep understanding of the fault lines dividing the WTO’s membership.

“The priorities she set out for her first steps after being appointed for the position reveal a clear-eyed agenda, tackling head-on key topic such as special and differential treatment, industrial subsidies and dispute settlement reform, while recognising the need for positive momentum through the conclusion agreement on issues such as fisheries, e-commerce and health”

The EP further extolled Okonjo-Iweala for her keen focus on delivering Sustainable Development Goals and achieving a value-based trade that aligns with the European Union’s (EU) global priorities.

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Okonjo-Iweala was also said to have impressed the Parliament with her call for opening the Organisation for more cooperation with other international institutions and parliaments.

“It appears to us that her political approach is what is needed now to resolve the key questions now at the organisation, which are not managerial but require high-level political agreement between key global decision-makers.

“Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala appears to be well-equipped for being the fair broker who could bring key players together and help them find the compromises that will be needed to resolve the WTO’s complex set of challenges and the deep disagreement between its members”

“We therefore very much hope that the EU will be able to support Dr Okonjo Iweala’s candidacy during the last round,” the Parliament said.

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Responding via a tweet on Thursday, Okonjo-Iweala restated that the impact of the Organisation and its trade priorities must be felt even at grassroots.

She also expressed gratitude to the Parliament for endorsing her candidacy.

A final decision is expected to be made before November 7 to appoint a new Director-General for the WTO.

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