It is one of those unfortunate things in the world: those who hired a cosmetic diva and a real estate flipper as trade advisers and negotiators are asking a Harvard graduate and MIT PhD to prove that she is qualified for a job. Reading Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s response to the United States on the World Trade Organization blockage is painful. But that is the world we live: you must be twice good to be half-celebrated. What can I say that her main competitor has not come out to endorse her. I mean how would the second in class, Ms Yoo Myung-hee, feel if she actually gets this job? You lost the match but went home with the gold medal. Tufiakwa!
In the wake of United States’ opposition to the appointment of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as the director general of World Trade Organization (WTO), on the ground that she lacks trade knowledge, Okonjo Iwela-Ala has responded, refuting the claims with references to her past experiences in trade.
Her response reads below:
“I am a development economist and you cannot do that without looking at trade. Trade is a central part of development. So, I have been doing it. My whole career at the World Bank, I was working on trade policy reform in middle and low-income countries at the bank.
“As a finance minister, the customs service in my country reported to me. And that is all about trade facilitation. I helped my country’s negotiation with my trade minister on the ECOWAS common external tariffs. I don’t know how much more trade you can have than that.
“So those who say I don’t have trade, they are mistaken. I think the qualities I have are even better, because I combine development economics with trade knowledge, along with finance, and you need those combination of skills to lead the WTO. I think I have the skills that are needed. I am a trade person,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said.
Sure – it is about national economic positioning and the U.S. does not care. That should not surprise because in the rise of the REST, someone has to “feel diminished”, even abstractly. The US does not want that to happen and is defending its castle. Yoo’s South Korea belongs to the old club while NOI and Nigeria, along with the emerging world, are hoping. Blunt her and keep the old order. This playbook will not change because the title “superpower” is in the dictionary for a reason.
U.S. concern is clear – we have given so much for others to rise. Possibly, Yoo can reverse that since Ngozi will see things from the angle of the emerging world which seeks more opportunities which, most times, the developed world will have to give out. It is not a zero-sum game: someone has to win or lose in balance of trade because the message of the rise of all, and not few remains globally tribal.
Yet, I still believe that NOI will get this job. The amazing United States will come along because Yoo is already damaged (she came second) to be effective. The only credible contender is sister Ngozi.