Chamber of Commerce Cheers New China-Backed Head of World Trade Organization

Nigerian former Foreign and Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks during a press conference on July 15, 2020, in Geneva, following her hearing before World Trade Organization 164 member states' representatives, as part of the application process to head the WTO as Director General. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo …

The United States Chamber of Commerce is cheering the newly confirmed head of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Nigerian economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who has the backing of China.

Okonjo-Iweala, who was opposed by the Trump administration for the top WTO spot, was supported by the Biden administration and received praise on Monday from China’s Commerce Ministry, which said they have “full confidence” in her appointment.

Former U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer previously suggested that the Trump administration did not support Okonjo-Iweala because of her lack of experience with trade issues — the core function of the WTO.

“We need a person who actually knows trade, not somebody from the World Bank who does development,” Lighthizer told the Financial Times last year.

The Chamber of Commerce praised Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment to lead the WTO in a statement. The Chamber’s Myron Brilliant said:

The U.S. Chamber congratulates Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, whose appointment comes at a critical time for the WTO. The U.S. business community strongly supports the WTO, and we are committed to backing efforts by the U.S., other member states, and Dr. Okonjo-Iweala to reinvigorate this vital institution.

Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment comes as Biden administration officials split into two camps: Free traders, who back the job-killing consensus favored by business, and economic nationalists who back tariffs and a revitalization of American manufacturing favored by U.S. workers, domestic producers, and unions.

Already, German officials are urging Biden to “abolish all tariffs on industrial goods” between the U.S. and the European Union (EU). The Chamber has lobbied the administration to take similar actions, specifically ending Trump’s tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.

Thus far, Biden has kept the tariffs in place.

Late last year, the WTO ruled against the U.S., claiming 2018-imposed tariffs on China were illegal and that China has not engaged in harmful trade practices. Lighthizer, at the time, said the decision proved Trump correct that “the WTO is completely inadequate to stop China’s harmful technology practices.”

Since 2001, U.S. free trade with China has eliminated at least 3.4 million American jobs. In 1985, before China entered the WTO, the U.S. trade deficit with China totaled $6 billion. In 2019, the U.S. trade deficit with China totaled more than $345 billion.

The Washington, D.C., free trade consensus has delivered devastation to America’s working and middle class communities for decades. A report released by Public Citizen in January revealed that free trade, while gutting working class white areas, has also wrecked black American and Hispanic regions of the country.

Since China’s entering the WTO and the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), black Americans lost nearly half a million manufacturing jobs. In the electrical and appliances industry as well as the textiles industry — three sectors that have been gutted due to free trade — Hispanic Americans have lost more than 305,000 jobs.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at Follow him on Twitter here


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