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Yoo’s withdrawal paves way for Okonjo-Iweala’s emergence as WTO DG


The chances of Nigeria’s former minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, becoming director general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), became brighter, following the withdrawal of South Korea’s candidate, Yoo Myung-Hee, from the race.

The South Korean Trade Minister announced her withdrawal yesterday, saying she would continue to work with responsibility for the restoration of the multilateral trading system, which would be having a female head for the first time in its 25-year-old victory.

The development comes after dozens of former United States (US) government officials urged President Joe Biden to endorse Okonjo-Iweala after the Donald Trump administration blocked her selection.


The US opposition to her emergence halted the selection process, as WTO decisions are made on the basis of a consensus of its members.

General Council Chairman of the global trade organisation, David Walker, had in October last year announced that Okonjo-Iweala had garnered the most support among members to become the next global trade chief, but her appointment was vetoed by the US.

Yoo, backed by Trump, was the only obstacle remaining, as the General Council announced Okonjo-Iweala as the consensus candidate.

Yoo’s withdrawal for the chase of the 164-member organisation does not mean that ‘NOI,’ as Okonjo-Iweala is fondly called, would mount the office automatically and become the first female and first African to head the organisation, as she would await a formal decision by the WTO members.

Since the US is the only member opposing her candidacy, it remains to be seen whether the Biden administration would reverse Trump administration’s veto and support her.

Baring no further opposition from any members, Walker may announce the resumption of the suspended October general council meeting to consider the appointment of a new director general.


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