FORMER finance minister Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is running in second place at the moment as the race to become the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) heats up according to the latest survey by UK betting house Ladbrokes.
Last month, President Muhammadu Buhari, nominated Dr Okonjo-Iweala, 65, as his candidate for the position, after withdrawing the candidacy of Yonov Agah, Nigeria’s permanent representative to WTO. In a big boost for her candidacy, the governments of the 15 nations that make up the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) have unanimously backed Dr Okonjo-Iweala.
Facing Dr Okonjo-Iweala is South Korea’s trade minister Yoo Myung-Hee, 53, a negotiator, strategist and international trade expert and the UK’s former international trade and defence secretary Dr Liam Fox. Also in the race are Mexican economist Jesús Seade Kuri, Kenya’s Amina Mohamed, Egyptian diplomat Hamid Mamdouh and former Moldovan foreign minister Tudor Ulianovschi.
According to the latest survey from Ladbrokes, Dr Fox is the rank outsider with a 33/1 shot in the betting to replace Roberto Azevedo as WTO director-general. For now, Kenya’s Amina Mohamed is the front runners with odds of 6/4, with Dr Okonjo-Iweala in second place with odds of 3/1.
Egypt’s Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh comes in joint third with odds of 6/1, the same as South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee. Mexico’s Jesus Seade comes in fifth with odds of 8/1, while Moldova’s Tudor Ulianovschi comes in sixth at 16/1, with Dr Fox coming last.
Ladbrokes spokesman Jessica O’Reilly, said: “As far as the odds are concerned it’s not looking good for Liam Fox and the UK.”
Rather than hold an election, the WTO selection procedure relies on finding a consensus, with candidates gradually being eliminated until a winner emerges. If a consensus cannot be reached in time, one of the four deputy directors-general will take the reins in September on a caretaker basis.
Since the WTO was created in 1995, three of its directors-general have come from Europe, while one each came from Oceania, Asia and South America. Africa fancies its chances this time, even though there is no regional rotation principle but for now, the continent is unable to reach a consensus on a candidate.