- WTO Council To formally Inform Nigeria’s Ambassador, S’ Korea’s Envoy Today…
- WTO Council To Meet With Nigeria, S’ Korea’s Ambassadors to Switzerland and UN Offices
Following the decisive and historic victory of Nigeria’s former finance minister and a former managing director of the World Bank, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Director-General(DG) designate of the World Trade Organization(WTO), shattering the glass ceiling on Tuesday, the WTO General Council is expected to formally inform the two competing countries via their respective Ambassadors to Switzerland today.
In this case, Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari and his South Korea’s counterpart, President Moon Jae-In are expected to be briefed on the outcome of Tuesday’s final round of voting and consultations by their respective envoys to Switzerland with concurrent accreditations the United Nations Offices in Geneva including WTO.
The New Diplomat’s Europe’s outpost gathered that notifying both countries is expected to be done Today Wednesday, 28 October by the WTO General Council led by Ambassador David Walker through Nigeria’s and South Korea’s Ambassadors to Switzerland with concurrent accreditations the United Nations offices in Geneva.
The New Diplomat outpost in Europe’s checks with the WTO Council office in Geneva reveal that this first stage of the process is projected to be done today.
By this, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Switzerland with concurrent accreditation to about 15 United Nations offices in Geneva including the WTO, WIPO, WHO, UNCHR, WMO is expected to be informed formally today by the WTO General Council under the chairmanship of Ambassador David Walker from New Zealand.
With this, Okonjo-Iweala officially emerges as DG designate of WTO. Okonjo-Iweala broke the glass ceiling, emerging as the first African and the first female to attain the position of DG of WTO by springing up as the finalist after eliminating South Korea’s current trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee in a fierce battle for the coveted job on Monday night.
Recall that The New Diplomat exclusively reported Tuesday how Okonjo-Iweala shattered the glass ceiling, emerging as both the first female DG of WTO and the first African that would lead the organization which is currently beset with multiple challenges arising from stand-off between China and the United States, complications premised on surge in coronavirus across the world which negatively affected trade and businesses.
Experts and WTO itself project that global gross domestic product will fall by 4.8 percent in 2020 before rising by 4.9 percent in 2021.
The New Diplomat’s checks indicate that as at last check Okonjo-Iweala may have edged out her South Korea Counterpart who is her country’s current Trade Minister with about 80 staggering votes from WTO member countries.
The New Diplomat investigations authoritatively reveal that Okonjo-Iweala got well over 100 votes to her rival’s about 46 support votes from member countries as at Tuesday 6pm Geneva time when consultations closed.
The influential nations including United States, China, EU, Canada, and the BRICS states inclusive of Brazil, Russia, India, China reportedly held top-level consultations in Geneva up until 6pm on Tuesday, October 27 “to manage the process and official announcement”.
The New Diplomat’s Europe’s outpost telephone call to Susan Conn of the WTO Council Secretariat confirmed that the consultations were already rounded up as at 6pm Geneva time.
Recall that as earlier exclusively reported the decision among some of the key, and influential nations within the global power bloc to move in Nigeria’s direction followed very tough, rigorous and high-level negotiations with China reportedly tilting the dynamics.
The New Diplomat Europe’s outpost gathered that with the EU nations and the United States moving in opposite direction, a move that reportedly triggered a deadlock between the two powerful geo-political allies for the first time in many years, it was the decisive and quiet support of China that finally tipped the scales in Okonjo-Iweala’s favour.
The WTO’s Ambassador Walker’s led General Council, the overall organ responsible for picking the organization’s next DG, was expected to officially announce its choice, and recommendation of Nigeria’s Dr Okonjo-Iweala Tuesday, October 27.
Sources hinted that this was however rescheduled as at 6pm Tuesday Geneva time to enable the Walker- led Council convey its decision to both Nigeria and South Korea’s envoys in Switzerland with concurrent accreditation to the UN Offices in Geneva, including the WTO, WIPO, WHO, UNCHR, etc. for onward transmission to their countries heads of governments.
Recall that the race for the coveted job of DG of WTO has been fierce with Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s serving Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee, running neck-and-neck in the intense jostle and game of global diplomatic intrigues.
Indications had emerged that influential global trading countries including the United States(US), the European Union(EU) nations, China, Japan and the BRICS countries were strongly divided on who should be the candidate to lead the WTO.
High-level sources had further confided in The New Diplomat’s Europe’s outpost operations that it “took serious negotiations and prolonged talks to get China to go along with Nigeria with its decision to support Okonjo-Iweala.” China controls about 12.4% of the global trade.
The influence of the United States on global trade is reportedly huge as well given that it single-handedly controls about 12% of global trade just as China holds about 12.4% of the global trade statistics.
Diplomatic sources hinted that East Asia countries with the exception of China went along with Myung-hee in preference. This expectedly gave her block votes. These include Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macay, Mongolia and South Korea. Japan, a US ally is another strong international player in global trade with an estimated $705.7 billion worth of goods globally in 2020.
However, on Okonjo-Iweala’s side apart from the EU and 55 AU nations were 24 solid ACP countries that reportedly expressed preference for her candidacy. The CP countries in this regard include Bahamas, Cuba, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica Republic, Dominica, Greneda, Fiji, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Timor-Lester, Parpua New Guinea, etc.
A combination of this preponderance form about 79 block countries that solidly stood behind Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala. However, as earlier reported, it was the quiet and deft diplomacy of China that sealed the deal in Okonjo-Iweala’s favour.
A top diplomat in Geneva told The New Diplomat in confidence: “China quietly changed the game. They said nothing openly but it moved silently and, deftly. China voted in Nigeria’s favour.”
Already, China is the biggest economy in the world in terms of P3, Purchasing Power Parity. Thus, the consequence of this on the global scale, according to diplomats, is quite telling.
Okonjo-Iweala, 66, served as Nigeria’s first female finance and later foreign minister, and has a 25-year career behind her as a development economist and international finance expert at the World Bank, eventually becoming its number two. She is also on Twitter’s board of directors and is a special envoy for the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 fight.
On her part, Yoo Myung-hee 53, is the serving South Korea’s trade minister, following a long career in trade, diplomacy, law and foreign affairs. She had previously served as South Korea’s foreign Affairs minister, among others. A lawyer and diplomat, Myung-hee holds degrees in Law, Public Policy and was called to the New York Bar.
Recall that in a confidential memo dated October 8, 2020 and a copy obtained by The New Diplomat, chairman of the WTO General Council, Ambassador Walker of New Zealand had disclosed that the third and final stage of his council’s consultations to aggregate the preponderance of preferences of Heads of delegations to the WTO would commence on October 19th and terminate on Tuesday October 27th, signaling the close of consultations and the date the Walker- led Council would likely rein in.(See Memo)
The WTO is facing multiple challenges. Already before the Covid-19 crisis, the WTO was grappling with stalled trade talks and struggling to curb tensions between the United States and China. The global trade body has also faced relentless attacks from Washington, which has crippled the WTO dispute settlement appeal system and threatened to leave the organization in tatters altogether.