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Okonjo-Iweala gains more foothold as WTO election nears

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

As the race for the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation peaks, Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala looks set to clinch the coveted position.

Speaking in a tweet post yesterday, Okonjo-Iweala said she was undaunted even though the WTO job promises to be a tough one.

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Okonjo-Iweala, who is the candidate to beat for the WTO Director-General election expressed confidence that she remained the most qualified candidate for the job as the selection process reaches a critical stage.

This comes amid reports that the European Union (EU) governments might have endorsed her for the final phase of the selection process.

Okonjo-Iweala said: “WTO reform will be tough, but I have delivered hard reforms before, including reforms of trade regimes in several countries.”

She also said she was the only candidate working at the crossroads of trade and public health sectors.

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The Nigeria candidate gained traction in the race after making the list of the top five contenders, following the elimination of three contestants in the last two weeks.

Kenya’s Amina Mohamed and Okonjo-Iweala are the two Africans still in the race, which has reached a decisive moment with the top two candidates expected to emerge today.

Both candidates have impressive credentials. Mohammed is Kenya’s current Sports, Heritage & Culture Secretary, while her Nigerian counterpart was a key figure in former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan’s administrations.

Apart from their respective national assignments, they both stand tall in the global trade and financial community, especially as they prepare to lead the WTO.

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Mohamed served at the WTO, where she headed the General Council in 2005, just as Okonjo-Iweala led the World Bank for five years, as Managing Director from 2007 to 2011.

The EU governments will support Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s trade chief, Yoo Myung-hee to lead the WTO as the race enters its final phase.

Envoys of EU member-country reportedly agreed yesterday in Brussels to endorse Okonjo-Iweala and Myung-hee in their bid to become WTO Director-General.

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