THE ELECTION OF A FEMALE CANDIDATE FOR WTO DIRECTOR-GENERAL HAS BEEN FINALIZED


09/10/2020




Selin ATAY-TDO- The selection of a new director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is entering its final stage. Nigeria's Ngozi Okanjo-Iweala and South Korea's Yoo Myung-hee will compete to become the first female director in WTO history, with the final round remaining in the election.

World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo announced that he would leave his post early, due to end on September 1, 2021, for personal reasons. Brazil's Azevedo said in a statement that his resignation had nothing to do with any health problems and was not a "political decision." On August 31, five candidates competed in the second round to replace Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who left the position due to personal reasons.

With former Finance Minister Ngzoi Okanjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea in the final round, it became clear that a female candidate would sit for the post of director general for the first time in WTO history.

WTO Information Director Keith Rockwell told reporters he called the race for director general a "process" rather than an "election." "This is a process designed to build consensus around a candidate," Rockwell said in a statement. “This candidate will most likely be determined by consensus. Both women in the final round have fantastically good qualities. That's something everyone agrees on” he added.

Ms. Okonjo-Iweala and Ms. Yoo have both political and international experience, and both have graduated from American universities.

Ms. Okonjo-Iweala, who also holds U.S. nationality, spent two terms as finance minister and a brief stint as foreign minister in Nigeria. Ms. Okonjo-Iweala has spent much of her career as an economist at the World Bank. If she wins the election, Ms Okonjo-Iweala will become the WTO's first African director-general.

Compared to Ms. Okonjo-Iweala, Ms. Yoo can be characterized more as a trade specialist. She began her career in trade in the year the WTO was born, 1995. Ms. Yoo has been involved in some of South Korea's key trade negotiations in that period, including with China and the US.

The candidate who won the position of WTO Director General is expected to be announced on November 7.


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