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Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala cleared for final stage in WTO DG race

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World Trade Organization members have selected two final candidates – Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee, to advance to the final round in the race to lead the Geneva-based trade body, Bloomberg reported.

Okonjo-Iweala was Nigeria’s finance minister during the tenures of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan. She has experience working at international governance bodies as a former managing director of the World Bank and as a chairman at the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.

Ms Yoo, on her part, is South Korea’s trade minister. She has helped expand her country’s trade network through bilateral accords with the U.S., China and the UK.

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The WTO may be having its first female director-general in its 25-year history.

WTO’s General Council Chairman, Mr. David Walker, is expected to formally announce the results to the institution’s delegates in Geneva on Thursday.

United Kingdom’s Liam Fox, Kenya’s Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril, and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri did not secure enough support in the second round of consultations, Bloomberg reported.

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The third and final phase of the consultation process would begin later this month and run until November 6, after which the WTO would name a consensus winner of the race. This clouds the outlook for the selection process in the United States’ presidential election holding on November 3.

The WTO makes decisions on a consensus basis, and a lack of American support for any of the finalists could mean delays in picking the new director-general.

If WTO members are unable to select a leader by consensus, a vote requiring a qualified majority could be held as a last resort, which would be an unprecedented development in the organisation.

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