For the leader of a superpower like the US, Trump was out of his multilateral depth, says the writer Picture: EPA-EFE/CHRIS KLEPONIS
For the leader of a superpower like the US, Trump was out of his multilateral depth, says the writer Picture: EPA-EFE/CHRIS KLEPONIS

With Donald Trump out, the world can get back to business

By Opinion Time of article published Nov 15, 2020

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Victor Kgomoeswana

Three days before the meeting of the General Council of the World Trade Organisation, it was curiously postponed.

The meeting was supposed to consider the appointment of the next WTO director-general, but who would dare hold such a critical meeting while President Donald Trump was throwing his toys about, over his election defeat?

The election of Joe Biden bodes well for the first female WTO director-general. And she is African.

Ambassador David Walker, the chairperson of the General Council said the council’s decision was due to “the health situation and current events”. “I am therefore postponing this meeting until further notice during which period I will continue to undertake consultations with delegations,” he added.

Just what did Ambassador Walker mean by “current events”? US elections, period.

The consultations will bring Biden’s people into the consensus seeking equation.

In the week preceding the November 9 meeting, President Donald Trump entertained the world with his refusal to concede defeat, fuelled by his allegations of fraud, without much evidence.

Somehow the timing of the meeting suggested that the General Council was praying for a Biden Harris victory. Maybe Kamala Harris will step in and broker a consensus. Had the elections retained Trump, the US would continue its opposition of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment.

Trump was prepared to stymie her confirmation even though she had been recommended ahead of Yoo Myung-hee, the other female candidate from South Korea.

The position of the US stemmed from several reasons, but the main one was its trade tiff with China.

In opposing Dr Okonjo-Iweala for director-general, the Office of the US Trade Representative argued that the WTO “must be led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field”, adding that there had been “no multilateral tariff negotiations in 25 years”.

That is simply Trump being Trump – the master of hyperbole who obviously does not care for the impeccable track record of Nigeria’s former finance minister. For the leader of a superpower like the US, he was out of his multilateral depth.

Joe Biden is not going to put the interests of the world or Africa above those of the US. But he has the experience of starting his term in the middle of a global crisis, like the 2008 credit crunch.

Unlike Trump, he will not talk about Egypt blowing up the Grand Renaissance Ethiopian Dam while the two countries are working to finalise the timetable to fill the dam.

He will not affront North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un by boasting that his nuclear button is “much bigger and more powerful one than his” and it works.

He will not spite pharmaceuticals and health-care professionals by punting a shot of bleach.

And, for our sake, he will find a better pastime than frustrating the ascent of Dr Okonjo-Iweala as the first woman WTO director-general.

* Victor Kgomoeswana is author of Africa is Open for Business, media commentator and public speaker on African business affairs.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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