BREAKING!! As South Korean Nominee Withdraws From WTO DG Race, Okonjo-Iweala To Go Unopposed

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BREAKING!! As South Korean Nominee Withdraws From WTO DG Race, Okonjo-Iweala To Go Unopposed

On Friday, South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee gave up her offer to become head of the World Trade Organization, Seoul said, clearing the way for Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to become the first woman and first African director-general of the global body.

In a statement, South Korea’s trade ministry said Yoo had met with the United States, her prime sponsor, and other major nations and “decided to renounce her candidacy.”

Since October, when key WTO ambassadors tapped Okonjo-Iweala as the best choice to lead the organization, the process of appointing a successor to Roberto Azevedo had been deadlocked, but the Trump administration retained its opposition to her nomination.

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Usually, the WTO head is selected by consensus, leaving the process at a standstill.

Observers indicated that South Korea, a security partner that stations 28,500 troops in the nation to protect it from the nuclear-armed North, was under U.S. pressure to keep Yoo in the race.

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Seoul faced anger from African countries and others at the same time for not bowing out.

At the time, one Western trade diplomat told AFP, “Korea is stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

The decision by the South to withdraw its candidacy comes two weeks after Joe Biden was sworn in as the new president of the United States.

“South Korea will continue to make various contributions to the rebuilding and improvement of the multilateral trading system,” the statement from the Ministry of Commerce said.

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The WTO is generally seen as in need of restructuring, having grappled with failed trade negotiations and struggled to contain tensions between the United States and China long before the Covid-19 crisis struck.

Washington, which has crippled the WTO dispute resolution appeal mechanism and threatened to leave the organisation entirely, has also faced persistent attacks from the global trade agency.

Ultimate two-

After the months-long consultation process, the WTO was destined to see the first woman Director-General whittling applicants down to the final two.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, 66, twice Nigeria’s finance minister and its first female foreign minister, educated as a development economist, has degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard.

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She spent a quarter of a century at the World Bank, rising in 2012 to be managing director and competing for the top spot, and is seen in her home country as a trailblazer.

Similarly, in the South’s still male-dominated culture, Yoo, 53, is known as a glass-ceiling-breaker.

An elite Seoul National University English literature graduate, she set aside her hopes of a literary career to become a civil servant of the trade ministry, later managing a number of free trade agreements along the way.

Credit: AFP

 

 

BREAKING!! As South Korean Nominee Withdraws From WTO DG Race, Okonjo-Iweala To Go Unopposed

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