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Road clear for Okonjo-Iweala’s WTO DG race as South Korea withdraws candidate

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

South Korea has withdrawn its candidate from the World Trade Organization (WTO) director-general race, Washington Trade Daily reports.

Yoo Myung-hee is South Korea’s trade minister and its candidate for the top job at the WTO following the resignation of Roberto Azevedo.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s candidate in the WTO race, had secured popular vote by a wide margin on October 28 but was not named DG because the US opposed her candidacy.

The two women are the the last candidates standing and the eventual winner will set a record as being the first female WTO DG.

However, there are speculations that the US might change its stance following Donald Trump’s failure to get re-elected as president.

After the October 28 meeting, the WTO also said Okonjo-Iweala the best chance getting the appointment.

Washington Trade Daily quotes sources as saying South Korea has notified the US of its decision and is expected to make it public “in the coming days”.

“Washington refused to accept the recommendation made by the selection panel chaired by General Council Chair Ambassador David Walker that Ms Okonjo-Iweala is the candidate most likely of the two to attract consensus because she clearly carried the largest support by members in the final round and clearly enjoyed broad support from members from all levels of development and from all geographic regions and has done so throughout the process,” the report read.

“Yoo from Korea failed to receive enough support from members of all levels of development -1e., the developed, developing and least developing countries, as well as geographically in comparison to the “largest” support received by Ms Okonjo-Iweala.”

The November 8 general council meeting scheduled to consider the appointment of the next DG was also postponed. Another general council meeting has been scheduled for December 17.

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