World Trade Organization

EU backs Nigerian or South Korean for WTO job

Agence France-Presse
EU backs Nigerian or South Korean for WTO job

The World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, at sunrise on May 28, 2020. - 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)


European envoys give their support to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria's former finance minister, and Yoo Myung-hee, South Korea’s trade chief

European Union (EU) member states have thrown their weight behind two women candidates to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO), one from Nigeria and the other from South Korea, diplomats said on Monday, October 5.

European envoys gave their support to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former finance minister, and Yoo Myung-hee, South Korea’s trade chief, at a meeting in Brussels.

The long-expected endorsement was blocked until the last minute by Hungary, which had lent its support to Britain’s former trade minister Liam Fox and Amina Mohamed of Kenya. (READ: Who’s still in the running for WTO leadership?)

The EU’s backing gives the two candidates a big boost, coming a day before an initial pool of 8 candidates to replace Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down as the WTO director-general last month, is whittled down to 2.

The choice of Okonjo-Iweala comes amid calls for an African to finally get a shot at running the organization, which has counted 3 director-generals from Europe, and 1 each from Oceania, Asia, and South America since its creation in 1995.

The WTO aims to select a winner in November, but some have expressed concern that political bickering could draw out the process.

The global trade body has faced relentless attacks from Washington, which has crippled the WTO dispute settlement appeal system and threatened to leave the organization altogether. –

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