Nigerian woman poised to lead WTO
Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is poised to become the first African and first woman to lead the embattled World Trade Organisation after a South Korean rival withdrew and the United States reversed its previous opposition.
The government of President Joe Biden expressed its strong support for Okonjo-Iweala in a statement late on Friday, lauding her experience at the World Bank and leading Nigeria's finance ministry, and pledging to work with her on needed reforms.
The twin developments ended months of uncertainty over the leadership of the global trade body, and cleared the way for WTO members to conclude a consensus-based process and confirm Okonjo-Iweala as the next WTO director-general.
The US administration of former President Donald Trump had blocked Okonjo-Iweala's candidacy after a WTO selection panel recommended her as chief in October.
Okonjo-Iweala said she was looking forward to the conclusion of the race and moving forward with needed reforms.
The Geneva-based watchdog has gone without a director-general since Brazil's Roberto Azevedo quit a year early in August and his replacement must contend with a COVID-induced recession, US-China tensions and rising protectionism.
South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, a finalist selected from among eight candidates, on Friday withdrew her name after months of diplomatic pressure to bow out.
The General Council of WTO members, which would have to decide on the appointment, will meet in early March.
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