Former Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is set to become the first woman and the first African to lead the World Trade Organization.
The former minister was endorsed by President Muhammadu Buhari in June 2020 as Nigeria’s candidate for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which was officially acknowledged in June.
At the beginning of October, WTO announced that South Korea’s trade minister Yoo Myung-hee and former Nigerian finance minister qualified as the two finalists to become the next director-general. Okonjo-Iweala gathered 104 votes from 164 member countries, including the European Union, China, Japan and Australia, to defeat South Korea’s trade minister. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was expected to be announced the winner according to Bloomberg, but WTO hit a major roadblock as the Trump administration did not back the appointment of Ngozi.
In a televised briefing on Friday, Yoo Myung-hee stated her decision to retreat from the race after “close consultation” with the United States, adding that the WTO “had been without a leader for too long” since Director-General Roberto Azevêdo announced he was stepping down on 31 August 2020, CNN Business reports.
In an interview in 2020, Okonjo-Iweala said, “The WTO needs a leader at this time. It needs a fresh look, a fresh face, an outsider, someone with the capability to implement reforms and to work with members to make sure the WTO comes out of the partial paralysis that it’s in.” Now, she will assume leadership as the Director-General of the Worl Trade Organization after the United States selects a new trade representative