Okonjo-Iweala: WTO postpones meeting to select new CEO
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is postponing a meeting next week where members should try to elect a new CEO.
After Washington blocked the candidate’s favorite, the former Nigeria financial company, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is unlikely to be able to elect a new boss.
The 164 WTO member states were scheduled to meet on Monday to choose between the two remaining candidates for the post of head of the crisis-torn organization.
But the head of a selection committee, set up to assist in the process, told members on Friday that the meeting should be postponed, AFP reported.
“I have learned that for reasons including the health situation and current events, the delegations will not be able to make a formal decision on November 9,” General Council Chairman David Walker said in a statement. view from AFP.
“Therefore, I am postponing this meeting until further notice, during which I will continue to consult with delegations,” he added.
The WTO selection committee, known as the troika, has been consulting with members for months to find a replacement for Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down as CEO a year earlier than expected in August.
Gradually narrowing down from an initial list of eight candidates, the troika last week selected the former Nigeria finance minister as the man most likely to gain the consensus needed to take the helm.
But hopes that the final round would be a mere stamping were dashed when one country, the United States, announced its intention to back South Korean Commerce Minister Yoo Myung Hee.
The US announcement threw the hunt for WTO leadership into uncertainty.
In recent days, many observers have noted that member states have little chance of agreeing on a new CEO while Donald Trump, arguably the WTO’s fiercest critic, remains in the White House, and have called for a delay.
“They are right, this is good,” a European diplomat in Geneva told AFP after announcing the postponement of the meeting.
In theory, members could reject the principle of consensus and proceed to vote, but such a procedure has never been applied in practice in the WTO.
In 1999, when members were unable to unanimously decide on whom to appoint four years at the helm, they decided to give the top two candidates a three-year term, rather than resorting to a vote. (AFP)