Newsie Events:- #Opinion By Caleb Onyeabor
International trade is the most important activity in the international system. It has the capacity to elevate and bring down any economy and occupies a strategic position in the development or advancement of any nation. Since the World Trade Organization (WTO) replaced the General Agreement for Trade and Tariffs (GATT) as the global body regulating International trade, it has become the most important international organization because of its jurisdiction over the most important thing in the international system – Trade.
The importance of the WTO has been proven in the role it played in the economic rise of China. It was the WTO’s decision to accept China in 2001 that paved way for the rise of the Asian giant into being the second most powerful economy on the planet. This is a peak of what is at stake at the WTO and why super powers are very mindful of what goes on in the WTO even more than what goes on in the UN.
As the race for the election of the new Director-General comes to a close, reactions have trailed the decision of the US to opt for the South Korean candidate over the much preferred Nigerian candidate. These reactions are borne out of emotions and negligent of the driving force that determines and influences the actions of state actors in the international system.
Nations are moved by their interests. They take decisions in international economic relations with other nations to support their interests, their activities and positions in these International organizations are shaped by their interests, they enter international treaties and pacts that suits their interests and back out from others that don’t suit their interests. Nations go to war to protect their economic interest, they give loans and aids to others and engage in international trade and exchange with other nations based on their interests. They support international missions and take foreign policy decisions that are in line with their interest, they make alliances and create enemies for the sake of protecting their interests. They support the candidacy of leaders of international organizations that aren’t a threat to their interests and the world trade organization is not an exception. There is no foreign policy decision that nations make that is not based on protecting or safeguarding their interests. With this basic understanding of this principle of interest being the guiding principle of foreign policy decisions, one can understand that the US decision to opt for the south Korean over Dr. Ngozi is a matter of interest not emotions. In the international arena, nobody cares whether you are black or white as long as you are good for their interests, you are good to go. Unfortunately, this is the major setback between the US and Dr. Ngozi.
Since the emergence of the administration of Donald Trump, we have seen a considerable shift in the foreign policy of the United States. First and most important is its ambitious programme of containing the expansion of China. The Trump administration is very clear on its belief that China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2001 was a big mistake and has been very vocal in accusing China of violating the principles and rules of the World Trade Organization. The US has accused China of dubious actions in international trade and has clearly pointed out the failure of international economic bodies to hold the Asian giant accountable to the detriment of the US and her allies. In its economic war with China, the World Trade Organization is crucial and so it is wary of candidates that are sympathetic to the Chinese or would prove difficult in doing the US biddings in the global trade body.
The candidate the US is choosing to support is from South Korea. South Korea is a staunch ally of the U.S and has been very pivotal in the U.S plan to contain the expansion of China in Asia and the world. South Korea harbours similar anti-Chinese views like the U.S and can be said to belong to the same economic bloc as the North American giant. Getting a South Korean into the top job of the WTO will give the U.S its best chance to influence the WTO to the detriment of its rival – China and a reversal of the mistakes it claimed were made since China joined the WTO in 2001.
Dr. Ngozi on the other hand is from Nigeria. A country whose foreign policy in the last 6 years has been more pro-China. In her last spell as finance minister in Nigeria, Ngozi has supervised a push towards better relationships with China than with America. At a point in Jonathan’s government, the entire cabinet went to China. Events like this make the US question the orientation of Dr. Ngozi and in their own right, are right to feel that she is a threat to their ambitions.
There have been speculations that Dr. Ngozi is an advocate of globalism and internationalism, a position that Trump’s administration has rejected and made serious efforts to prove its stand. It is very logical for a government that is against globalism to reject the candidacy of a person that it suspects to be in favor of globalism. It is all about interests.
Dr. Ngozi is not the first victim of the U.S in recent times. The U.S had opposed the candidacy of her fellow countryman, Adesina Adewumi at the African Development Bank. The U.S had renegotiated and altered several deals, pacts, and treaties since the emergence of Trump in what it terms righting the wrongs. It has pulled out of international treaties and pacts, had issues with Tedros led World Health Organization under suspicion of being Chinese puppets. The U.S has also locked horns with the United Nations when it took a unilateral decision on Israel despite majority of the nations voting against that decision. As it continues to pursue nationalistic ambitions, more actions like these are expected. There is an economic war going on and the U.S just feels it is not going to win with Dr. Ngozi as head of the all-important World Trade Organization.
With the U.S decision, the battle has been drawn. All other nations who are opposed to U.S interests particularly China will have to step up their game and prevent the U.S from having its way. Although the U.S influence has waned in recent times, there is no room to underestimate their power. The U.S still has allies and can convince them that its position is what is best for her and them. The declaration of support and endorsement for Dr. Ngozi remains what it is – endorsements. From now till November 9, the real game will be played. Positions can be altered. The U.S can have her way or fail. If the U.S no longer thinks the WTO is useful to her, she has the right to pull out. A decision that will have major consequences on her and world trade. With the U.S pulling out of the WTO, there is bound to be a shock on various economies across the world and on the international economy in general.
Dr Ngozi might have sensed this U.S opposition and this informed her decision to obtain U.S citizenship. Unfortunately, U.S citizenship is not enough. It would not be easy for Ngozi as it was for Adesina because the WTO is a platform no major world power will afford to lose out on. Untill November 9th, it is game on.
Caleb Onyeabor is a Nigerian intellectual, an avid advocate for political justice, social justice, and economic justice. Author of Diary of a Messed Up country. Follow him on Twitter via twitter.com/caleb_onyeabor
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Newsie Events:- #Opinion By Caleb Onyeabor