Trump administration blocking selection of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to become first African WTO head

The Trump administration on Wednesday blocked the appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the first African head of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

A WTO nominations committee recommended the group’s 164 members appoint Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

But the Trump administration said it wants a South Korean woman Yoo Myung-hee.

The Trump administration said it will back the South Korean minister, throwing Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s prospects into turmoil.

WHO spokesman Keith Rockwell was quoted as saying that just one member country did not support Ms Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment at a delegates’ meeting on Wednesday.

Reuters said Rockwell confirmed the objection came from the United States.

Rockwell told reporters there was likely going to be “frenzied activity” to secure a consensus for Ms Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment. She already has the support of the European Union.

Okonjo-Iweala, 66, is a former minister of finance in Nigeria with a 25-year career behind her as a development economist at the World Bank.

She also served as foreign minister in Nigetia and on Twitter’s board of directors, as well as chair of Gavi vaccine alliance and as a special envoy for the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 taskforce.

If confirmed, she would be replacing WTO chief Roberto Azevedo who stepped down a year early in August.

The WHO is currently being run by four deputies.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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