Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, becomes the only candidate to be the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), as South Korea withdraws the candidacy of Yoo Myung-hee, who is the country’s trade minister.
Okonjo-Iweala, 66, who has served as Nigeria’s first female finance and foreign minister, with a 25-year career behind her as a development economist at the World Bank, ultimately had Myung-hee as the only competitor for the job.
This was disclosed through a statement by South Korea’s trade ministry on Friday.
According to a Bloomberg report, the decision was made following a dialogue with the United States representatives and other representatives from major countries. The decision was reached on the premise that the organisation needed to rejuvenate multilateral trade, something her supporters believe Okonjo-Iweala is well equipped to do.
Myung-hee’s withdrawal came after several former US government officials supported the candidacy of Okonjo-Iweala in an open letter to President Joe Biden.
The administration of the immediate former president of US, Donald Trump, declined to support the submission of Okonjo-Iweala, which led to the delay of the WTO General Council meeting expected to approve the emergence of the next DG.
Trump’s administration rejected the prevalent support from over 100 of the 164 members, gathered by Okonjo-Iweala over her rival Myung-hee. This subsequently hindered the emergence of Okonjo-Iweala as the DG of the WTO.
It was also gathered that the new development was not unconnected with a report that many eminent former top government officials of the United States have implored President Joe Biden to quickly support the broad consensus-support already being enjoyed by former Nigeria’s minister of finance and a former managing director of the World Bank Okonjo-Iweala to lead the WTO.
Among those who signed the letter, include former World Bank Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz and a former United Nations envoy, John Negroponte.
According to eminent economist and Nobel Prize winner in Economics, Stiglitz and Ambassador Negroponte who endorsed the letter, Okonjo-Iweala “is a dynamic leader who has the vision to manage the Geneva-based trade body through an era of reform.”
“Okonjo-Iweala is a uniquely qualified leader poised to help the WTO evolve and succeed for future generations. She is a leader who can also be relied on to pay due attention to the concerns many Americans have about global trade. She has what it takes to lead WTO reforms and take the organisation into the future.”
“Okonjo-Iweala is a uniquely qualified leader poised to help the WTO evolve and succeed for future generations. She is a leader who can also be relied on to pay due attention to the concerns many Americans have about global trade. She has what it takes to lead WTO reforms and take the organisation into the future,” said the letter.
Okonjo-Iweala is on the Twitter board of directors and is a special diplomat for the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 fight.
She would not only be the first woman, but also the first African to lead the global trade body since inception if she becomes the WTO’s DG.