Nigeria, Egypt clash over WTO D-G position
By Nsikan Ikpe
Two of Africa’s most influential nations, Nigeria and Egypt are presently having a clash in respect of the impending vacancy for the Director General of the World Trade Organisation, WTO, The Difference has learnt.
With all pointers to the fact that the position which is being vacated by outgoing Director-General Roberto Azevedo, would be coming to the mother continent, a battle of sorts has broken out among African countries that are interested in clinching the position.
According to the WTO, the procedures for appointing the WTO Director-General are quite clear. Speaking to the subject on May 20, General Council Chair David Walker of New Zealand had informed members that the appointment process for the next Director-General would formally commence on 8 June with nominations expected to be accepted from that date until 8 July.
It will be recalled that on 14 May, incumbent Director-General Azevêdo had informed members at an informal Heads of Delegation meeting that he intended to step down on 31 August 2020, a year before his term was to have expired.
But even ahead of this development, the African Union had reportedly opened up its own internal process to pick an acceptable consensus candidate from the continent.
That process may actually now have however run into muddy waters with the recent decision of Nigeria to throw in its former Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala into the process, a decision that has sparked outrage from Egypt.
According to the North African nation, the reported move to introduce Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination to contest for the office of director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was going to be a slight on the processes that member states of the African Union (AU) had initiated with the nomination of candidates for the position having closed by November 30, 2019.
Before now, Nigeria had seemingly endorsed the candidacy of Yonov Frederick Agah, the West African nation’s permanent representative to the WTO. However, on June 4, Aso Rock made a substitution request to drop Agah for Okonjo-Iweala, a situation that Egypt says is patently untenable.
In the view of Egypt, the withdrawal of Agah simply suggests that Abdulhameed Mamdouh of Egypt and Eloi Laourou of the Republic of Benin are now the “only two endorsed African candidates”.