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The fast spread of coronavirus in Switzerland could disrupt the WTO’s ability to confirm Okonjo-Iweala as the DG.

The bid by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to choose a new Director-General by next week could be delayed by at least one month, due to the rapid spread of coronavirus in Switzerland, which houses the headquarters of the World Trade Organization.

 

According to a report by Bloomberg, this new development could further disrupt the WTO’s ability to confirm Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the first African and woman to lead the organization in its 25-year history.

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It was gathered that while some in-person meetings may become virtual, senior WTO officials are discussing the possibility of postponing their plan to make a formal announcement on Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment at a general council meeting initially scheduled for Nov. 9 at the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

It could be recalled that Geneva’s cantonal authorities, on Sunday, announced strict new lockdown measures, following a surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in the Swiss city. It pointed out that from November 2 to 29, the area will prohibit public and private events of more than 5 people.

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The potential delay of next week’s meeting by WTO to take a final decision on the appointment of a new DG is neither the only or greatest hurdle to Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment as director-general.

 

It was reported that the Trump administration on October 28, said it would not support the emergence of Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, who is the consensus candidate, as the new DG of WTO, because the U.S. preferred South Korean Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-Hee, for the job, who they insisted is still in the race.

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The US government is opposing Okonjo-Iweala emergence despite the fact that the WTO selection committee determined she clearly carried the largest support by members and enjoyed broad support from members at all levels of development and from all geographic regions.

 

The U.S. move has disrupted the leadership race because all WTO decisions are made by a consensus of its 164 members, which means a single country, in this case, the United States, can oppose a decision for any reason.


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