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WTO to postpone decision on candidate to lead the organisation


WTO to postpone decision on candidate to lead the organisation

The World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters are pictured in Geneva
Photo: Reuters/Denis Balibouse

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has delayed indefinitely the meeting originally scheduled today for selecting a new Director-General.

Nigeria’s former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the expected choice. Her election, however, has been stymied by US opposition. Washington argues that Okonjo-Iweala has not taken a hard enough stance against allegedly unfair Chinese trade practices.

This selection is seen as vital to the continued operation of the WTO as the organisation’s Appellate Body has been unable to effectively operate since last year after failing to fill seats due to US opposition. It is highly unlikely the WTO will switch from a member consensus to a member vote system for fear the US will block any future WTO policies. Should they fail to come to a consensus on a global trade chief, the organisation will remain in limbo, seriously hampering any attempts to regulate members’ global trade restrictions put in place during the pandemic.

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The WTO delayed the meeting following Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential elections. Biden has signalled a greater dedication to international organisations and global trade, meaning the incoming administration may not block Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination.

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