By Tanko Mohammed
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva began the second phase of the selection process for the position of Director-General with all applicants, including Nigeria’s Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, making presentations.
Candidates from Mexico, Egypt, Moldova, Republic of Korea, Kenya, UK and Saudi Arabia vying for the WTO Director-General position are also to make presentations.
After her presentation, Okonjo-Iweala told newsmen at a press conference that, “Choosing a Director-General for WTO should be on merit. The best person should be chosen to lead an institution that’s having challenges’’.
“If it happens to be a woman, great. If it happens to be an African it is also great. It should be based on merit,” she said while extolling the qualities which makes her well suited for the job.
“ The WTO needs leadership and I’m someone with a strong managerial capability with the ability to forge consensus and reforms.
“These bundles of qualities in addition to my leadership quality is what I’m bringing to the WTO,” she added.
Okonjo-Iweala also spoke on various issues ranging from trade implication of COVID-19, challenges to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMSE) as well as e-commerce.
According to her, e-commerce and the digital economy are vital forms of trade, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, she said, there was a need to address the challenge of the digital divide in developing and least-developed nations – where infrastructure remained a major impediment to such form of trade.
Similarly, she emphasized the need to strengthen MSMSE – a vital part of the global economy which was adversely affected by the pandemic.
In the same vein, the former finance minister, also said that in tackling COVID-19, if elected as director-general, she would ensure that vaccines are accessible to poorer countries.
“When vaccines become available, there will be allocation criteria that will ensure that it’s accessible to all,” she said while noting that she will bring her experience as Chair of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance board to bear.
Other issues addressed by Okonjo-Iweala include fostering relations among member countries to rebuild trust in restoring consensus decision making- in other to strengthen the WTO.
The session, which holds from July 15 to 17, is expected to receive presentations from seven other candidates, who are also vying for the position of Director-General of WTO.
The second phase of the selection process, in which candidates would make themselves known to members will end on Sept. 7.
Similarly, the third phase which is the consultation process will begin on the same day.
At the forthcoming consultation, Chairman of the General Council alongside Chairs of the Dispute Settlement Body and the Trade Policy Review Body will consult with all the WTO members to determine which candidate is best placed to attract a consensus support.