US spanner in election of latest WTO DG

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 30

Despite India’s excellent security and defence ties with the US, trade continues to act as an irritant. The latest is the US spanner in the election  of Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the new Director-General of World Trade Organisation (WTO).

What would have been the first woman and the first African to lead WTO has been stymied by the US although India along with the EU, Japan and China had opted for the Nigerian over her South Korean rival.

However, this will not be the first time the WTO election has become politicised. In 1999, a similar stalemate led to the two candidates sharing three-year terms.

The job is tough and will require perseverance and outstanding negotiating skills after the previous DG Robert Azevêdo quit the post prematurely because of the stalemate in talks to reform the WTO, said sources.

Sources said Washington’s objection to her selection has led the WTO to postpone the election to November 9, after the US elections, in the hope that a Joe Biden dispensation might not look at multilateral trade talks with a jaundiced eye.

Okonjo-Iweala has advocated open access in the distribution of Covid vaccines which has not been seen as a good portent by the current US administration towards her attitude in running the WTO in case she’s elected.

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