Okonjo Iweala and Yoo Myung-hee
Okonjo Iweala and Yoo Myung-hee

WTO DG: Okonjo-Iweala’s chances brighten as major contender withdraws

NEWS DIGEST – Nigeria’s ex-Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s chances of securing the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) brightened yesterday as South Korea withdrew its candidate, Yoo Myung-hee, from the race.

According to a report by The Guardian, Washington Trade Daily quoted sources as saying that South Korea had notified the United States (U.S.) government of its decision and would make the decision public in the days ahead.

The implication of this decision by South Korea is that Okonjo-Iweala now stands a better chance of being announced as Director-G of the World trade body.

“Washington refused to accept the recommendation of the selection panel headed by General Council Chair, Ambassador David Walker that Okonjo-Iweala is the most likely candidate of the two to attract consensus.

“This is because she had the largest support of members of the panel at the final round and clearly enjoyed broad support from members from all levels and geographic regions and had done so throughout the process,” it stated.

The report added that South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee could not garner enough support from members of all levels of development; the developed, developing and least developing countries, as well as geographically compared to the ‘largest’ support received by Okonjo-Iweala.

Myung-hee, South Korea’s candidate and Okonjo-Iweala were the two finalists for the Director-General of the WTO, whose winner would break record as the first female Director-General of the organisation.

However, Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy suffered temporary setback on October 28, 2020 due to U.S. government’s opposition, but indications have emerged that the U.S. might change its stance following President Donald Trump’s loss in the November 3, 2020 presidential elections.

After the October 28 meeting, the WTO also said Okonjo-Iweala had the best chance of emerging as the consensus candidate.

The November 8, 2020 General Council meeting scheduled to consider the appointment was also postponed and another scheduled for December 17, 2020.