US opposes move to elect first African woman as WTO head

A spokesman for the World Trade Organization (WTO) said the United States is the lone country opposing the move to appoint former Nigerian Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as head of the body.

If elected, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala would be first African to lead the WTO. (Photo:

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has received much support from the majority of WTO delegates.

Keith Rockwell in a statement sent out to WTO delegates on Wednesday (October 28) said that just one member state did not support the appointment of Okonjo-Iweala.

“All of the delegations that expressed their views today expressed very strong support for the process… for the outcome. Except for one,” Rockwell said.

However, the Office of the US Trade Representative said that the United States had thrown its support behind South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee, noting that she could “reform the organization.”

“Minister Yoo is a bona fide trade expert who has distinguished herself during a 25-year career as a successful trade negotiator and trade policymaker. She has all the skills necessary to be an effective leader of the organization,” said the US in a statement.

“This is a very difficult time for the WTO and international trade. There have been no multilateral tariff negotiations in 25 years, the dispute settlement system has gotten out of control, and too few members fulfil basic transparency obligations. The WTO is badly in need of major reform. It must be led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field,” added the statement.

If selected Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala would be the first woman and first African to lead the WTO.