Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, an economist and former Nigerian finance minister, is expected to become the next director general of the World Trade Organization. The government of Biden announced on Friday its “strong support” for their candidacy. She would be the first woman and the first African citizen to lead the organization.
Yoo Myung-hee, the South Korean trade minister who was also a finalist for the role, said Friday that she plans to retire from the exam and pave the way for Dr. Leaving Okonjo-Iweala open, The Associated Press reported.
The two women were announced as finalists for the top position of the trade organization in October. She was cut off by a group of eight candidates over several months, with Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was the person with the broadest support, the WTO said at the time.
But because the organization, a trade regulator that has existed in its current form since 1995, requires none of its 164 members to oppose the election, President Donald J. Trump, who supported Ms. Yoo and said he would not support the candidacy of Dr. . According to a WTO declaration, Okonjo-Iweala was able to hold up the process.
In a statement Friday, the U.S. sales agent’s office, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is “widely recognized for effective leadership and has a proven track record of leading a large international organization with a diverse membership.”
“It is particularly important to underline that two highly qualified women made it to the final round of the WTO Director-General Examination – the first time a woman has made it at this stage in the institution’s history,” it said said in the statement.
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Apr. 5, 2021, 4:58 p.m. ET
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was Nigeria’s finance minister twice, spent 25 years as a development economist with the World Bank, and is now chair of the Center for Global Development, according to the center’s website.
Molly Toomey, a spokeswoman for Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said Friday that she “congratulated Yoo Myung-hee on her long campaign and welcomed South Korea’s commitment to rebuilding and improving multilateralism”.
“DR. Okonjo-Iweala is keen to focus on the many reforms needed at the WTO,” said Ms. Toomey. “She is humble at the support she has received from WTO members and champions in Nigeria and other parts of the world Has.”
The search for someone to fill the top position began after the former director general Roberto Azevêdo from Brazil announced in May last year that he would be leaving the post a year early, citing personal reasons and a wish to join WTO members to give a head start in choosing his replacement. He left on August 31 with no successor, The AP reported.
If approved, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala to join an organization crippled by actions by the Trump administration, which has refused to approve candidates to fill positions on a body charged with settling trade disputes.
Mr Trump defied the organization’s principles by starting a trade war with China. He also threatened to pull the United States out of the trade organization, which he repeatedly accused of unfair treatment of the United States.
World trade has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and Ms. Toomey said Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is keen to complete the selection process so that the trading group can “focus on the Covid-19 pandemic and the recovery of the global economy”.
In its statement, the US Trade Representative’s Office said the Biden administration looks forward to “working with a new WTO Director General to find ways to achieve the necessary substantive and procedural reform of the WTO.”