Nigeria’s former minister poised to head WTO after South Korean candidate quits
Following the withdrawal of South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is now poised to become the World Trade Organization’s leader.
The removal of Yoo came about after hundreds of former U.S. government officials urged President Joe Biden to support Okonjo-Iweala after her nomination was rejected by the Trump administration in 2020.
The 164 WTO members are expected to meet later in order to pass an agreement on the classification of Okonjo-Iweala.
Thus, for the first time any of the two final candidates succeeded in their bid to follow Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down as WTO Director-General in August a year ahead of schedule, the global trade body is expected to be headed by a woman.
Okonjo-Iweala became the first woman to lead the organisation and the first African.
Okonjo-Iweala, 66, who served as the first female finance and foreign minister in her country and has a 25-year career behind her as a World Bank development economist, welcomed the support of the troika.
Okonjo-Iweala, who also serves on the board of directors of Twitter, as chairperson of the GAVI vaccine alliance and as special envoy for the war against Covid-19 at the World Health Organization, saw her candidacy boosted when the EU threw its weight behind her.
The WTO was already dealing with failed trade negotiations and trying to curb tensions between the U.S. and China long before the Covid-19 crisis struck.
Washington, which has crippled the WTO dispute resolution appeal mechanism and threatened to leave the organization entirely, has also faced constant attacks from the global trade agency.