WTO set for first female leader after trio drop out

Reuters
Former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee are the final candidates to head the World Trade Organization.
Reuters

Former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee are the final candidates to head the World Trade Organization, ensuring the 25-year-old WTO will have its first female leader.

The WTO said yesterday the two women were the remaining candidates for director-general after the field was cut from five to two.

The winner will replace Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down a year earlier than expected at the end of August. The WTO aims to find a successor by early November.

“Both of the women that are in the final round are remarkably well-qualified. This is something on which everyone has agreed,” WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell told reporters, making the announcement at WTO headquarters in Geneva.

Okonjo-Iweala, 66, a former Nigerian finance and foreign minister, is an economist and development specialist now serving as board chair of global vaccine alliance Gavi. She has said the WTO should play a role in helping poorer countries access COVID-19 vaccines.

Yoo, 53, South Korea’s trade minister, is pitching herself as an experienced operator on trade in challenging times after clinching deals with the United States, China and others, while supporting global rules.

Kenyan sports minister Amina Mohamed, Saudi royal court adviser Mohammad al-Tuwaijri and British ex-international trade minister Liam Fox dropped out of the race after failing to get sufficient backing from the WTO’s 164 members.

The WTO will hold a third and final selection round on October 19-27, with a view to having a director-general in place by early November.

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