WTO: Okonjo-Iweala, Yoo Makes Final List of DG Spot

The World Trade Organisation is on a path to making history having thrown up two female candidates on Thursday for the final run off.

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee  on Thursday scaled the hurdle to reach the final contest. November 7, is the due date to select the eventual winner and whose task the responsibility would be to salvage the already burdened body out of the harsh global economic slump caused by the pandemic.

“Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Korean minister Yoo Myung-hee will advance to the third and final stage,” WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell told reporters at the global trade body’s headquarters in Geneva.

It would be recalled that Roberto Azevedo stepped down as WTO Director-General in August, a year ahead of schedule. The initial pool of eight candidates to replace him was narrowed down to five in last month’s first round.

And in the second round last week Thursday, Britain’s Liam Fox, Kenya’s Amina Mohamed and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad al-Tuwaijri were knocked out.

“Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Korean minister Yoo Myung-hee will advance to the third and final stage,” WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell told reporters at the global trade body’s headquarters in Geneva.

The pair received a boost earlier this week when rather than voting, the 164 WTO member states made decisions by consensus only, and have been narrowing down the field of candidates through lengthy consultations.

 

“Thanks, WTO members for your continued support of my candidacy,” she Twitted. “I could not have made it without the prayers and support of all Nigerians and friends around the world,” she added.

Okonjo-Iweala, 66, served as her country’s first female finance and foreign minister and has a 25-year career behind her as a development economist at the World Bank, eventually becoming its number two.

She is also on Twitter’s board of directors and is a special envoy for the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 fight.

If Okonjo-Iweala wins, she would not only become the first female to lead the global trade body in its 25-year history, but also the first African.

Her contemporary Yoo is South Korea’s first female trade minister. She has enjoyed a career in trade diplomacy and foreign affairs in which she struck free trade agreements with China and the United States.

“Both of the women in the final round are remarkably well-qualified,” Rockwell said.

“This is something on which everyone is agreed. We’ve been impressed with them from the very beginning. They are people with long experience dealing with tricky issues.

“It’s clear that whichever woman assumes this job will have a very full plate from day one.”

Before the Covid-19 crisis hit, the WTO was already grappling with stalled trade talks and struggling to curb tensions between the United States and China.

The global trade body has also faced relentless attacks from Washington, which has crippled the WTO dispute settlement appeal system and threatened to leave the organisation altogether.

“We do need a director-general, and the sooner she can take office, the better,” Rockwell said.

 

 

 

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