By Yinka Kolawole, with agency report
The General Council of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has announced the indefinite postponement of its special meeting to complete the process of announcing a new Director-General, earlier scheduled for Monday, November 9, for which Nigeria’s Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was the clear favourite.
Sources said that the postponement of the special meeting of WTO General Council to conclude the exercise in Geneva may not be unconnected with worsening conditions relating to the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, based on recent measures adopted in Brussels and the yet to concluded presidential elections in the United States.
In a statement, Chairman of the General Council, David Walker stated: “As you know, at the meeting of the Heads of Delegation on 28 October, in accordance with the Procedures for the Appointment of Directors-General adopted by the General Council and contained in WT/L/509, and the agreed modalities for Phase 3 of the process in JOB/GC/243, I and the Facilitators – Ambassador Dacio Castillo, Chair of the Dispute Settlement Body and Ambassador Harald Aspelund, Chair of the Trade Policy Review Body – reported the outcome of the third and final round of consultations in the process of appointment of the next Director-General.
”And we announced that we were submitting the name of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the candidate most likely to attract consensus and recommending her appointment by the General Council as the next Director-General of the WTO.
“I also announced that a special Meeting of the General Council would be convened to take a formal decision on the appointment of the next Director-General, and a meeting was subsequently convened for 9 November for this purpose with an Airgram circulated to delegations in WTO/AIR/GC/33 which, as you have seen, contains a single item concerning the Appointment of the next Director-General.
“It has come to my notice that for reasons, including the health situation and current events, delegations will not be in a position to take a formal decision on 9 November.
”I am therefore postponing this meeting until further notice during which period I will continue to undertake consultations with delegations.”