Why We Are Against Okonjo-Iweala - USA
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The United States has stated that it opposes the election of former Treasury Secretary Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) because the UN body is in urgent need of reform, which must be driven by "someone with real, practical experience".
In a statement released Wednesday by the office of US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the US government said: "The United States supports the election of Korean Commerce Secretary Yoo Myung-hee as the next director-general of the WTO.
"Minister Yoo is a true trade expert who has distinguished herself in her 25-year career as a successful trade negotiator and trade policy maker. She has all the necessary skills to lead the organisation effectively.
This is a very challenging time for the WTO and international trade. There have been no multilateral customs negotiations for 25 years, the dispute settlement system is out of control and very few members are meeting basic transparency obligations.
The WTO is in urgent need of reform. It must be run by someone with real, practical experience in this field".
The argument against Okonjo-Iweala has always been that he has no direct trade experience.
But in July, the former finance minister told the WTO, while refuting the claim, "I am a development economist and you can't do that without dealing with trade. Trade is a central component of development.
So I did. Throughout my career at the World Bank, I have worked at the Bank on trade policy reforms in low- and middle-income countries," he said.
"As Finance Minister, I was briefed by my country's customs service and this is all about trade facilitation. I helped my country in the negotiations with my trade minister on the ECOWAS common external tariffs. I don't know how much more trade you can have than that.
"So anyone who says I don't have a trade is wrong. I think my qualities are even better, because I combine development economics with trade and finance skills, and it is this combination of skills that is needed to run the WTO. I think I have the necessary skills. I'm a person by trade'.
Okonjo-Iweala had won Wednesday's referendum on the appointment of the next Directorate General and had given the go-ahead to the three ambassadors responsible for choosing the next head of the trade body.
However, at a meeting of WTO delegates to discuss the appointment, the US expressed its opposition to their choice - the US was the only country to oppose their election.
WTO spokesperson Keith Rockwell said only one member country did not support Okonjo-Iweala.
All the delegations that spoke were very much in favour of the result with one exception," he said.
The WTO will meet again on 9 November 2020 after the US elections to decide who will be the next Director-General.