Former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been endorsed by the European Union governments as a candidate for the position of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), as the race enters the final month.
Bloomberg reports that the EU governments also agreed in Brussels to select the South Korean candidate, Yoo Myung-hee, who is the country’s Trade Minister, as the second candidate for the job.
Okonjo-Iweala had, in her presentation to the council promised that if elected, she would work with members to prioritise delivering the 12th Ministerial Conference MC12 successfully.
“I would also prioritize updating the rulebook, unlocking the dispute settlement system, working on transparency and notification, enhancing the work of regular bodies, and strengthen the Secretariat. For me, it would be an honor and privilege to serve,” she had said.
Among her plan if elected is actively supporting cross-cutting projects and transparency to support new initiatives. She also said will simultaneously help breathe life into longstanding work programs.
“I will come to work every day enthused and energized and I will seek a secretariat that does so as well. I will commit myself wholeheartedly to work collaboratively and inclusively – as I have always done – to make this organization work better for all its members.”
Hungary swung behind the planned recommendation after being the only EU country to withhold support at a lower-level meeting of officials representing the 27-nation bloc last Friday, a source said on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations were confidential.
The remaining contenders were all current or former ministers, something that trade officials had previously said was an important characteristic for a future Director-General.
The remaining contenders are Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi Arabia’s former Minister of Economy and Planning, Liam Fox, the UK’s former Secretary of State for International Trade, and Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril, Kenya’s former International Trade Minister.
The WTO planned to announce two finalists after October 6 and name a winner by November 7.
Brazilian Roberto Azevedo stepped down from the job at the end of August a year before his term ended.
The Geneva-based trade body faced headwinds from the coronavirus pandemic, the US-China trade battle, a hobbled arbitration system and a lack of tools to tackle growing challenges such as industrial subsidies.