Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Set To Become Sole Candidate in WTO Race

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On June 5th, the journey to becoming the Director-General of Geneva-based World Trade Organization, WTO, began for Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former two-time Minister of Finance/Foreign Affairs and Managing Director (Operations) of the World Bank alongisde eight others. In the first round, three of the candidates fell out leaving her along with four others to proceed to the next stage of voting. In the second stage, three candidates also fell out leaving her and South Korea’s Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-Hee as the last candidates contesting for the Director of the World Trade Organization following the resignation of Roberto Azevedo.

While Okonjo secured the support of 110 of the 164 member countries and was set to defeat South Korea’s trade minister, Yoo Myung-hee at the final stage of the race on October 28th, the United States opposed her candidacy. However, things will take a new turn following a report by Washington Post stating that Yoo Myung-Hee of South Korea, has withdrawn from the race leaving her opponent, Nogozi Oknojo as the sole candidate. 

The report reads: Washington refused to accept the recommendation made by the selection panel chaired by General Council Chair Ambassador David Walker that Ms 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 levels of development and from all geographic regions and has done so throughout the process,” the report read.

Yoo from Korea failed to receive enough support from members of all levels of development -1e., the developed, developing and least developing countries, as well as geographically in comparison to the “largest” support received by Ms Okonjo-Iweala.

Dr Okonjo is on the Boards of Standard Chartered International PLC, Twitter Inc and actively involved in mobilizing financial support in the fight againt Covid-19 as African Union’s (AU) Special Envoy and a Special Envoy to mobilize International Health Organization’s Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator.

The announcement to withdraw South Korea’s Candidate would be made public soon.

Why this Matters? 

Once the public announcement by South Korea is made, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala will stand unopposed in becoming the first female Director of the World Trade Organization and unstoppable by the United States who leaned towards Yoo Myung-Hee earlier. It will also set Nigeria ahead in the International community.


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