Reuters Abuja

Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is not interested in replacing Pascal Lamy as the head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) when the Frenchman steps down in a year’s time.

This is what Nigeria’s Finance Ministry said yesterday.

Okonjo-Iweala left her role as the managing director of the World Bank last year to become the most high-profile member of President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet in an expanded version of a role she held between 2003 and 2006.

Less than a year into her post she ran to be president of the World Bank in April, losing out to Korean-born American health expert Jim Yong Kim. It was the first time in the bank’s history that the hold of the US on the job was challenged.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Dr Okonjo-Iweala is not a candidate for the leadership of the WTO. She has also not expressed any interest whatsoever in the position,” the Finance Ministry said.

Okonjo-Iweala’s opponents questioned her commitment to Nigeria after her unsuccessful World Bank bid, so showing interest in this post could have been politically damaging.

Emerging market countries will want to see one of their own in charge of the Geneva-based trading club, after the top jobs at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank went to a European and an American.

But there are already signs that developing nations will squabble over the identity of their candidate, meaning the race for the job overseeing negotiations to reform global farm subsidies, customs and trading rules is wide open.

Formal nominations are not due until December, but trade diplomats are already assessing chances and gathering names. – Reuters