The World Trade Organization might soon have its first African, and female Director-General
The World Trade Organization might soon have its first African, and female Director-General as Yoo withdraws from the race. The Nigerian former finance minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Africa’s candidate for the seat of the director-general of the global trade body, seem to have an increased chance of clinching the position. Her only opposition and the US-backed candidate has allegedly withdrawn from the race.
Sources said that the Korean government has already communicated its decision to the US to withdraw from the race. Yoo, Myung Hee is expected to make her withdrawal public in the coming days. The announcement is believed to have strengthened Ngozi’s quest to become the first female and first African to lead such an organization.
The World Trade Organization was created on January 1, 1995, and sited in Geneva, Switzerland. The organization has the responsibilities of administrating trade agreements, handling trade disputes, monitoring national trade policies, and creating a trade negotiation forum among member states.
The outgoing director-general Mr. Roberto Azevêdo had earlier announced he would be stepping down by August 31. This decision was believed to have been necessitated by the United State’s massive influence on its ability to settle trade disputes among member nations. He stepped down a year before the end of his second tenure. The US was alleged to have hindered the judges’ appointment to its appellate panel after the tenure of four of the seven Judges expired. The director-general’s decision to resign saw the following persons’ nomination by their respective nations’ government:
Dr. Jesús Seade Kuri (Mexico)
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria)
Mr. Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt)
Mr. Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova)
Ms. Yoo Myung-hee (Republic of Korea)
The contenders followed a rigorous selection process and a series of consultations with the general council to arrive at the two final contenders: Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Ms. Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea. A vote followed this among the council members, who saw Dr. Ngozi as the favored candidate for the role, defeating her counterpart with a vast margin.
However, her emergence was much frowned at by the United States of America, who has vehemently insisted that Ms. Yoo Myung hee though been the unpopular candidate, will take the role of the Director-General of the Apex international trade organization. This development led to the postponement of the new DG’s official declaration until after the US election. It is not very clear why the US has been against Ngozi’s candidacy, but sources close to the process reveals that it is because of her closeness to the Democratic party.
Though Dr. Ngozi has always been optimistic that the decision of the Whitehouse could not hinder her emergence, Mrs. Yoo’s withdrawal will further boost the chances of her becoming the next director-general of the WTO. She is expected to be declared the DG as soon as her South Korean counterpart makes her withdrawal official.
Dr. Ngozi Iweala has held several national and international positions. She was a two-time Minister of Finance, a Coordinating Minister for the economy, and a foreign affairs minister for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. She also had had a career with the World Bank as a development economist for 25 years and rose to become a managing director.
Ngozi is a graduate of Harvard University and bags a Ph.D. in regional economics and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is married to Ikemba Iweala, a neurosurgeon, with whom they have four children. She is both a Nigerian and a Citizen of the United States and is 66 years old.
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