Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee have been selected to advance to the final round in the race to lead the World Trade Organisation.
Okonjo-Iweala and Yoo’s candidacies received a boost earlier this week when EU member states officially threw their weight behind them
By advancing two women to the last stage of the selection process, the WTO may get its first female director-general in its 25-year history.
The UK’s Liam Fox, Kenya’s Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri did not secure enough support in the second round of consultations.
Mrs Okonjo-Iweala was Nigeria’s finance minister during the tenures of former presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan. On the international scene, she was a managing director of the World Bank and a chairman at the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.
She is also on the Twitter board of directors and is a special envoy for the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 fight. She says she can bring a “clear set of eyes” to the WTO and what she called “a deeply dysfunctional organization.”
Yoo is South Korea’s trade minister. During her 25-year career in government, she has helped expand her country’s trade network through bilateral accords with China, the UK and the U.S. She has vowed to play the role of mediator in the U.S – China trade war if chosen to lead the organization.
The campaign to lead the WTO is playing out against the backdrop of the pandemic, a worldwide recession, the US-China trade dispute and the US election. President Donald Trump has repeatedly blasted the organization and pledged to overhaul it to better suit his country’s interests.
The third and final phase of the selection process will begin later this month and run until November 6, after which the WTO will seek to name a consensus winner of the race.