The European Union (EU) has maintained its support for Nigeria’s former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, to become the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The union had in the previous round backed Okonjo-Iweala. An official of the union on Monday told Reuters that the EU’s support for Okonjo-Iweala is considered a strong signal to reinforce the multilateral order and a sign of mutual trust between the bloc and Africa.
In the previous round, the EU selected both Okonjo-Iweala and Yoo Myung-Hee of South Korea.
Experts now believe that the EU and the USA, who have historically agreed on decisions like these, may clash.
Okonjo-Iweala is promoting the multilateral trading system which the WTO has always leaned on, while the Trump administration has favoured bilateral trades.
The USA’s trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, has worked with Myung-Hee and is believed to prefer her candidature.
Trump has frustrated the trade body, criticising its decisions and blocking the appointment of judges to its appeal body.
In addition to promising to return global trade to its multilateral legacy, Myung-Hee is proposing to use her 30-year experience in trade and diplomacy to smoothen US-China relations.
Okonjo-Iweala, on the other hand, wants to see increased access to drugs and vaccines in developing countries.
There are 164-member countries in the WTO and a consensus candidate has to be chosen before an announcement can be made.