WTO Top Job: 79 Countries Endorse Okonjo-Iweala’s Candidacy

by on October 17, 2020

After all of Africa endorsed her candidacy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria expressed faith in her bid to head the crisis-wracked World Trade Organization, vowing she would champion change.

“After the 55-member African Union officially backed her over her only remaining rival, Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea, she told a virtual press conference,” I feel the wind behind my back.

Whichever of the two candidates is popular in their bid to succeed Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down as WTO Director-General in August a year ahead of schedule, the global trade body is expected to be headed by a woman for the first time.

“If this person is an African and a woman, that’s awesome. Because the organization has not been led by either an African or a woman”, Okonjo-Iweala said.

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But at a time when the WTO is consumed by several crises, she stressed that, above all, the new leader must be highly qualified in political , diplomatic and managerial negotiations.

“At this point in time, the WTO needs a very knowledgeable Director-General who is capable of having the political scope and stature to be able to carry out changes and to deal with them at very high levels,” she said.

“It’s not just having those talents, but at this juncture when the WTO needs it, having them all meet in one person.”

In the meantime, the third and final round of consultations aimed at finding consensus on one nominee is expected to start next week and conclude on 27 October, with the announcement due in early November.

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Okonjo-Iweala said she was pleased to hear on Friday that “all African nations are getting behind me.”

A coalition of Caribbean and Pacific states also said they would endorse her, taking the number of countries officially supporting her candidacy to 79, she said.

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