Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a step closer to becoming director-general of the World Trade Organization after her main competition quit the race following months of uncertainty over the body’s leadership
Republic of Korea (ROK) trade minister Yoo Myung-hee on Friday, abandoned her bid to become head of the WTO. Yoo’s decision clears the way for Okonjo-Iweala to become the global body’s first woman and first African director-general.
The ROK trade ministry said in a statement that Yoo bowed out after consulting with the United States — her prime backer — and other major countries
The process to name a successor to Roberto Azevedo had been deadlocked since October. Key WTO ambassadors backed Okonjo-Iweala as the best pick to lead the organization but former U.S. President Donald Trump said he would only support Yoo.
Okonjo-Iweala is also a former World Bank managing director and chair of the board of Gavi, the UN-backed vaccine alliance that is now playing a central role in the global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
She has twice served as Nigeria’s finance minister and as the country’s first foreign minister. Okonjo-Iweala has degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard.
A final decision on the appointment of a WTO director-general is not expected until the next US trade chief is installed, which could be in the coming weeks. The next meeting of the WTO’s general council is on March 1 and 2.
Story compiled with assistance from wire reports