The World Trade Organisation has postponed a meeting where members are expected to pick a new Director-General after the United States blocked the favoured candidate, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
The WTO earlier announced that the meeting would hold next week.
But a communication seen by AFP showed that the meeting has been postponed indefinitely.
“It has come to my attention that 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 head of the selection committee told member states.
“I am therefore postponing this meeting until further notice during which period I will continue to undertake consultations with delegations,” he added.
The PUNCH had reports that the United States opposed Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the consensus candidate to lead the WTO.
The US said it is supporting South Korean trade minister, Yoo Myung-hee, to become the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation because she is a “trade expert”.
However, the European Union and WTO’s ambassadors backed Okonjo-Iweala for the position.
US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, while giving reasons for opposing Okonjo-Iweala, who gained American citizenship in 2019, said WTO needs “someone with real, hands-on experience in the field”.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s nominee for the office of the director-general of the World Trade Organisation, has emerged winner of the highly competitive race.
TheCable reports that Okonjo-Iweala was chosen as the final candidate for the much-coveted role. She polled 104 votes from 164 member countries to defeat how South Korea’s trade minister at the final stage of the race.
She has broken many records, including becoming the first African to occupy /win that office at the WTO.
The official announcement is expected to be made by the WTO at 3pm Nigerian time.
European Union governments will support Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee to lead the World Trade Organisation as the race enters its final month, reports Bloomberg.
EU member-country envoys agreed on Monday in Brussels to endorse Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former finance minister, and Yoo Myung-hee, South Korea’s trade chief, in their bids to become WTO director-general, according to an official familiar with the matter.
Hungary swung behind the planned recommendation after being the only EU country to withhold support at a lower-level meeting last Friday of officials representing the 27-nation bloc, the person said on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations were confidential.
Five candidates are still in the running to the lead the WTO. It plans to announce two finalists after today and name a winner by November 7.
Brazilian Roberto Azevedo stepped down from the job at the end of August — a year before his term ended. The Geneva-based trade body faces headwinds from the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S.-China trade battle, a hobbled arbitration system and a lack of tools to tackle growing challenges such as industrial subsidies.