Okonjo-Iweala Set To Become WTO Head As Rival Prepares To Back Down

Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is on track to become the new director general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), after South Korea resolved to withdraw its candidate from the race, Washington Trade Daily has reported.

Yoo Myung-hee, the contender from the East Asian nation, became Okonjo-Iweala’s lone rival for the WTO top job after both succeeded two voting rounds during which the strengths of eight candidates were tested.

“Korea plans to withdraw Trade Minister Yoo from the race for new WTO director general, paving the way for Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to be the next DG and the first woman and African in the role,” Washington Trade Daily in a Twitter statement on Monday via @washtradedaily.

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Dr Okonjo-Iweala won the popular vote of member countries of the global trade watchdog in October but could not be announced winner because of the opposition of the U.S., which preferred the South Korean.

Regardless of who wins, the WTO will have its first female director general in its 25-year history once the race is concluded.

Reports making the round show the U.S. could reverse its decision to back Myung-hee after President Donald Trump’s failure to regain the White House.

“Washington refused to accept the recommendation made by the selection panel chaired by General Council Chair Amb. David Walker that Okonjo-Iweala is the candidate most likely of the two to attract consensus because she clearly carried the largest support by members in the final round and clearly enjoyed broad support from members from all geographic regions and has done so throughout the process,” Washington Trade Daily said.

“Yoo from Korea failed to receive enough support from members of all levels of development i.e, the developed, developing and least developing countries, as well as geographically in comparison to the largest support received by Ms Okonjo-Iweala,” it added.

A general council meeting earlier planned for 8th November to discuss the appointment of the new director general was shelved. Another meeting of the council is due on 17th December.


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