Professor Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the leader of the World Trade Organisation (WHO), may have been frustrated and considering resigning her position.
This was claimed by five officials quoted by Bloomberg News. According to the anonymous officials, Okonjo-Iweala has fully grasped the frustrating reality of the WTO’s historical inertia.
She has repeatedly told ambassadors and staff that she could easily walk away from the job, and reminds them she hasn’t bought any furniture for her temporary home in Geneva, the officials said.
An early departure of the WTO’s top trade official would add yet another layer of chaos to an organization suffering from an existential crisis that may lead governments to conclude the WTO is not a credible forum for addressing their shared challenges.
Deep divisions and a lack of trust are not new for the WTO, which requires consensus agreement among all 164 members to finalize multilateral accords.
Some Geneva trade officials told Bloomberg News that they suspect Okonjo-Iweala wants to run in the 2023 presidential election in her native country of Nigeria.
Okonjo-Iweala didn’t comment about her threats to resign but denied any interest in running for the Nigerian presidency, calling such speculation “utterly ridiculous and not true” in a statement to Bloomberg News.
“I just got here. I am enjoying what I’m doing,” she told Bloomberg News in a television interview. “It is a very exciting job and I am trying to have some successes here.”
“The idea of Dr. Ngozi stepping down early would be anathema to the business community,” Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce John Denton said in an interview. “We have backed her forward-looking agenda, we want her to commit and maintain that.
“We see no reason why she would even be thinking about ending her term and frankly — she has told us point blank that she is not.”