WTO postpones naming new Director General

09 Nov 2020

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has cancelled the announcement of its new Director General meeting following the U.S. presidential election.

The Geneva-based agency, which serves as an international arbiter for trade disputes, confirmed it had postponed a meeting scheduled for Monday that had been called to name Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the role.

The WTO wrote in a statement: “For reasons including the health situation and current events, delegations will not be in a position to take a formal decision on 9 November.”

The Trump administration was against her selection, despite the former finance minister winning massive support amongst the WTO’s 164 members.

“Okonjo-Iweala had moved a step closer to becoming the first woman and the first African to be director of the global trade watchdog after securing backing from the EU, China, Japan and Australia. Liam Fox, the leading Brexiter and former international trade secretary, had run as the UK government’s preferred candidate but failed to win enough support from other countries to reach the last two in the process,” reported The Guardian.

Analysts have commented that Joe Biden’s victory over Trump last week may have prompted some member states to seek a delay in the WTO race, in order to ensure the Biden White House’s support for Okonjo-Iweala.

She has previously served two terms as Nigeria’s finance minister and has also been her country’s foreign minister. She’s also been the number two at the World Bank.