Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala cleared to be new WTO leader

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Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala should now be the leader of the World Trade Organization.


South Korea's Yoo Myung-hee has officially dropped out of the running to be the new leader of the World Trade Organization (WTO), leaving Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala the sole candidate.

The news was officially announced today (February 5th 2021) at a press briefing in Seoul, where Ms Myung-hee is trade minister.

"To speed up the consensus-building among the member countries on selecting a new director-general, I have decided to renounce my candidacy through close cooperation with the United States, our strong ally," she commented.

The WTO has been without a director-general since the unexpected resignation of Roberto Azevedo in May 2020, with key ambassadors tipping Ms Okonjo-Iweala as the best candidate for the job.

However, the US under Donald Trump opposed her appointment, saying she did not have enough experience. 

Its trade representative Robert Lighthizer recently underlined this stance in an interview with the Financial Times, saying: "There are very few areas where you would say, 'here's an organisation in very bad shape, let's get someone who knows nothing about its core mission'."

New president Joe Biden appears to have taken a different view, though, with Ms Okonjo-Iweala now apparently set to take the director-general's position.