WTO postpones November 9 meeting to settle leadership dispute

A photo taken on May 28, 2020 in Geneva shows the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters at sunrise. - Candidates to succeed Roberto Azevedo as head of the WTO will have one month from June 8 to submit their nominations, the global trade body said following the Brazilian's surprise resignation. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
Photo showing the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

A meeting set to be held on November 9 to consider the appointment of former Nigerian Finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been postponed until further notice.

Following the conclusion of the months-long selection process, Okonjo-Iweala was recommended in late October as the candidate to lead the global trade body and, thereby, become the first woman and African to head it.

Her recommendation still required approval by consensus at a meeting of the WTO’s 164 members.

However, the United States rejected the proposal saying that it backed the other remaining candidate, South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee.

“For reasons including the health situation and current events, delegations will not be in a position to take a formal decision on 9 November,” a WTO document seen by Reuters said.

Trade sources believe that one of the reasons for the delay was that there had been no indication the administration of President Donald Trump had changed its support to Okonjo-Iweala.

Moreover, Myung-hee has not pulled out of the race despite increasing diplomatic pressure to do so.

The WTO is currently being led by four deputies after Roberto Azevedo, from Brazil, stepped down a year early in August.