FORMER finance minister Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has moved a step closer to being confirmed as the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) after her sole opponent Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea withdrew from the contest.
During the final round of voting by WTO delegates last year, Dr Okonjo-Iweala emerged victorious, securing 104 votes from the 164 member countries, piping South Korea’s trade minister Yoo Myung-hee. to the top job. However, the US said it supported the selection of Ms Yoo because she is a bona fide trade expert who has distinguished herself during a 25-year career as a successful trade negotiator and trade policy maker.
Under its selection procedure, the WTO works by trying to finding a consensus on electing a director-general but with the US refusing to along with a majority, there was a stalemate. However, with President Joe Biden assuming office on January 20, the US is expected to return to being a collegiate player in world trade, abandoning the unilateralist style of President Donald Trump and confirming Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s nomination.
With Ms Yoo now officially withdrawing from the contest, President Biden has been asked to formally endorse Dr Okonjo-Iweala as the new WTO boss. Dozens of former US government officials have been among those urging President Biden to endorse Dr Okonjo-Iweala.
Ms Yoo made the decision to withdraw after discussions with the US and other countries and took various issues into account, including the need to revitalize the multilateral organisation. Dr Okonjo-Iweala is now set to become the WTO’s first African and first female director-general in its 25-year history.