W.T.O. Set to Gain New Chief, but Deep Issues Remain

W.T.O. Set to Gain New Chief, but Deep Issues Remain

WASHINGTON – Nigerian economist and former finance minister, Ngozi Okonzo-Iweala, is poised to become the first woman and the first African to head the World Trade Organization, when members of the global trade board considered her candidacy for director general on Monday. .

The appointment would remove a significant obstacle to the functioning of the World Trade Organization, which has been headless during a time of increasing protectionism and global economic turmoil from the epidemic. But even Dr. With the new support of the Hale and Biden administrations, along with Okonzo-Iwela, the World Trade Organization, which was established in 1995 to ensure that the business runs smoothly and independently, contrasted with the challenges surrounding it. Will have to face it. Business intermediary of the world.

Trade negotiations, including attempts to curb harmful subsidies to the fishing industry, have been dragged without any resolution. An important part of the organization, called the appellate body to settle trade disputes, remains crippled after the Trump administration Blocked appointments Of new personnel. And there are deep divisions over whether rich and poor countries should receive separate treatment under global trade rules.

There is also growing consensus that the World Trade Organization has failed to police some of China’s worst economic crimes, which many in the United States consider to be the world’s biggest trade challenge today. And there is deep uncertainty about whether the group can be overhauled to address those deficiencies.

“There are many issues that are begging for reform,” said Wendy Cutler, a US trade negotiator and a vice president at the Asia Society Policy Institute. He said that Dr. The support of the Biden administration for Okonzo-Iwela “can be an easy way to achieve good will and focus everyone on important critical issues.”

The Trump administration spent most of the last four years criticizing or ignoring the World Trade Organization, eventually weakening the institution by running its most prominent trade policies outside its borders. Instead of working with the World Trade Organization, President Donald J. Trump deployed heavy-duty, one-by-one, trading partners such as China and the European Union, Governments argued Violated World Trade Organization rules.

President Biden is likely to take a very different approach. He has criticized Mr. Trump for isolating allies and weakening the multilateral system, and hopes to make the United States a more active player in international groups, including the World Trade Organization.

This includes supporting the new leadership of the organization. On 5 February, the Biden administration announced that it was Dr. Okonzo-Iwela will support, reversing efforts by the Trump administration to block his candidacy.

Former Director General, Roberto Azvedo, Announced last may That he would leave the job a year earlier and leave in August. While most of the members of the organization, Drs. To support Okonzo-Iweala, Trump administration officials, especially former trade representative Robert E. Lighthizer, was criticized for his lack of business experience, and supported the South Korean candidate, Trade Minister. Yoo Myung-hee, instead.

On 5 February, Ms. Xu dropped out of the race.

The United States Trade Representative Office said in a February 5 statement, “The United States is ready to engage in the next stage of the WTO process for a consensus decision on the Director General of the World Trade Organization.” “The WTO Administration looks forward to working with the Director General of the World Trade Organization, which finds a way forward to achieve the necessary reforms and procedural reforms of the World Trade Organization”

Dr. Okonzo-Iwela, 66, is a development economist who spent 25 years at the World Bank, worked as managing director, and served two terms as finance minister of Nigeria as well as the country’s foreign affairs minister. An American citizen who received his doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, serves on the boards of Twitter and Standard Chartered and is an advisor to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Until recently he served on the board of GAVI, an international organization that distributes vaccines to poor countries.

In his first term as Finance Minister, he led negotiations that resulted in the elimination of most of Nigeria’s external debt. Later, as the Coordinating Minister of the Economy in Nigeria – a powerful position created for him which never happened before or after – many ministers took instructions from him, according to Patrick Okigbo, A. Policy analyst Located in Abuja.

In his 2018 book, “Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous,” Dr. Okonzo-Iweala wrote that his reforms to combat corruption and improve the economy made him many enemies. When her mother was kidnapped, she said, the kidnappers called Dr. Demanded the resignation of Okonzo-Iweala.

With her many internal factions and vested interests, her years of navigating Nigerian politics had made her a “supporter” to pick and fight major battles, Mr Okigbo said.

“If he can handle Nigeria, he should be able to do a good job in the World Trade Organization,” he said.

Dr. Okonzo-Iwela has stated that his initial priorities will be to ensure the free flow of vaccines, drugs and medical supplies to combat the epidemic and aid in global economic recovery. It has vowed to insist on new trade agreements on the fisheries and e-commerce industry Called to find “Resolution of deadlock over dispute settlement.” She also said that she would prioritize updating business rules, which would help members to be transparent and inform each other to make changes in their policies and strengthen the organization’s bureaucracy.

Dr. After the appointment of Okonzo-Iwela, one of the most important issues for the World Trade Organization would be the paralysis of its system for settling trade disputes.

Appeal body, a part of the organization that considers appeals by countries for WTO decisions on trade disputes, Closed for over a year, The Trump administration barred new appointments to the panel listening to those arguments. The Trump administration argued that the appellate body had exceeded the mandate with which it was created, eventually embroiled in a type of judicial activism that undermined American trade law, harmed American workers, and Infringed on American sovereignty.

Before leaving office in January, Mr L Lighthizer expressed no regret for playing a role in suspending the WTO’s dispute settlement system, saying in an interview that it had “become a net negative for the US, and got rid of it.” Pana was a positive for American. Interests. “

He said the World Trade Organization was “largely a failure,” although he said that getting rid of the group altogether would “create more problems than it was worth.”

“I don’t think we did what we said people wanted it to. It hasn’t done anything on the speaking front,” Mr. Lighthizer said.

While the Biden administration is not as critical or likely to clash with the World Trade Organization’s problems as the Trump administration, some Democrats share some concerns about the organization’s shortcomings, including whether the appellate body has given the US Trade policy is unfairly narrowed. And many officials of the Biden administration believe that the World Trade Organization only has limited power to push China to undertake economic reforms.

The Biden administration’s nominee for United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai is familiar with both the strengths and shortcomings of the global trade body, successfully pursuing lawsuits against Chinese export restrictions at the World Trade Organization during the Obama administration when it served. Had. General Counsel for Trade Representative’s Office.

Ms Tai led a legal challenge, backed by Canada, Japan and the European Union, to a ban that China imposed on the export of rare earth materials, which was a major input for electronics. The United States won the case, and China dropped its quota in 2015.

Last week, the Biden administration also announced that it was hiring Harvard Law School professor Mark Wu who has written about the shortcomings of the World Trade Organization when he arrives in China, a senior adviser to the Office of the Trade Representative in the form of.

in Impressive 2016 paper, Mr. Wu argued that the World Trade Organization has effectively disciplined China in areas where it has relevant regulations. But for some of China’s most economic practices – particularly the state’s dominant role in industry and the huge subsidies given to businesses – the World Trade Organization has waned, Mr. Wu said.

“The WTO system works but only up to a point” Mr. Wu wrote. “The WTO faces a challenge: Does the Institute of China Inc. Can formulate a predictive and appropriate set of legal rules to address new business-perverse behavior arising from? If not, the major countries may turn away from the World Trade Organization to address these issues. This will weaken the organization. “

Ruth McLean Dakar contributed reporting from Senegal.



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