Biden ends deadlock over first African and first woman to lead WTO

In October, a WTO nominations committee recommended its 164 members appoint Dr Okonjo-Iweala as a replacement to outgoing
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Daily US Times: President Joe Biden’s administration has ended the deadlock over the next chief of the World Trade Organization (WTO) by expressing its “strong support” for Nigeria’s ex-finance minister. She would be the first African to lead the WTO if confirmed.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was frontrunner for the role until the previous Trump administration last October said it wanted another woman, South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee.

Ms Yoo has now withdrawn her candidacy for the post.

If confirmed in the role, Dr Okonjo-Iweala would be the first African and the first woman to lead the WTO.

On Friday, Dr Okonjo-Iweala praised her rival for the post and said: “There is vital work ahead to do together.”

In October, a WTO nominations committee recommended its 164 members appoint Dr Okonjo-Iweala as a replacement to outgoing chief Roberto Azevedo; a spokesman at that time said all had approved the appointment “except for one”.

President the then US President Donald Trump – who had described the WTO as “horrible” and biased towards China – wanted Ms Yoo, South Korea’s trade minister.

On Friday, Ms Yoo said her decision to withdraw her candidacy was made in “close consultation” with the US.

“South Korea will actively contribute to reaching consensus for the next WTO chief and co-operate with her and participate in the WTO reform process,” she said.

The White House congratulated Ms Yoo on her “strong campaign” for the position and for being a “traiblazer” as South Korea’s first female trade minister.

The White House said in a statement that the “US stands ready to engage in the next phase of the WTO process for reaching a consensus decision on the WTO Director General”.

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