Nigeria is currently reaching out to all members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in its bid to ensure Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala becomes the next Director-General of the global trade body.

The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Katagum, disclosed this in a statement on Friday.

She stated that the Federal Government was already in talks with the United States of America and South Korea to overcome the impasse.

Katagum noted that this was to persuade the countries, especially the U.S. to join the consensus in adopting the recommendation of the appointment of Dr Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, as WTO DG.

“We shall keep you updated on this issue and hope that, we would achieve the desired goal of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala securing appointment as the first African and the first female to head the WTO,” she said.

She added, “Nigeria wishes to express profound appreciation to all members of the WTO  that have supported Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the post of WTO Director-General and would reach out to other countries to secure the consensus needed in the final decision on her appointment as the next Director-General of the WTO.”

A file photo of the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Katagum, Photo: Twitter- @TradeInvestNG

Katagum, who chairs the Campaign Strategy Team for Nigeria’s DG-WTO candidate, hinted that the team held an emergency virtual meeting on Friday.

She explained that the meeting was to review and strategise on the way forward in the light of recent developments in the selection process for the appointment of the WTO chief.

The minister noted that the third and final round of consultations for the selection of the DG-WTO, which commenced in Geneva on October 19, 2020, was concluded on Tuesday.

She added that the Chair of the WTO General Council, Ambassador David Walker of New Zealand, with the facilitators of the selection process, as well as the Chair of the Dispute Settlement Body and the Chair of the Trade Policy Review Body (Troika), informed the WTO members that Dr Okonjo-Iweala secured overwhelming support of members, both in terms of numbers and geographical spread.

At the meeting of WTO Heads of Delegation in Geneva held on Wednesday, the Nigerian candidate was said to have emerged as the contender most likely to gain consensus as DG-WTO.

A photo combination of Nigeria’s Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (R) and South Korean Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee (L). Both women are in the running to lead the World Trade Organisation. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

However, her appointment is expected to be adopted by consensus of all members, in line with WTO decision-making procedure at a Special General Council Meeting scheduled for November 9.

The U.S. had stated reservations on the outcome of the final round in view of the fact that its preference was still the candidate of South Korea.

It also said it would not join the consensus in selecting Dr Okonjo-Iweala as DG-WTO at the forthcoming Special General Council.

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