By Adedapo Adesanya
Nigeria’s candidate for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has made it into the final round. She will now face Mrs Yoo Myung-hee, South Korean Minister for Trade for the slot.
According to widespread reports, both women emerged as the last two remaining candidates after Mr Mohammed Al-Tuwaijiri of Saudi Arabia, Mr Liam Fox of the United Kingdom and Kenya’s Mrs Amina Mohamed were unable to gain enough support in the second round of consultations leading to their elimination.
The other candidates, Mr Jesus Saede Kuri of Mexico, Mr Tudor Ulianovschi of Moldova and Mr Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh of Egypt were dropped during the first round.
This means the institution will have its first female head in its 25 years of establishment.
Mr David Walker, WTO General Council Chairman, will formally announce the results to the institution’s delegates today in Geneva, Switzerland.
The final phase of the consultation process to name a consensus winner will continue later in October and run until November 6, 2020. In the case that WTO members fail to produce a leader by consensus, a vote entailing a qualified majority could be held as a final resort.
Business Post had reported that the vacancy for the WTO chair position arose after Mr Roberto Azevedo, the former head tendered his resignation on August 31, 2020, a year before the end of his tenure.
Mrs Okonjo Iweala, 66, has served as Nigeria’s finance minister under the administrations of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan. She also served as a development economist at the World Bank where she rose to become the managing director.
She is also on the Twitter board of directors and is a special envoy for the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 fight.
Her emergence as DG would not only mean she is the first woman, but also the first African to lead the global trade body.
Mrs Yoo Myung-hee, 53, is the current Minister for Trade of South Korea. She is the first woman to hold the position. She has worked in various government agencies for more than 25 years and is considered a veteran in the Korean politics and trade circles.
Whoever wins will have their work cut out for them as the trade body is facing multiple crises, and struggling to help members navigate a severe global economic slump triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Even before the emergence of the pandemic, the organisation was grappling with stalled trade talks and struggling to curb tensions between the United States and China.
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