Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala, South Korea’s Myung-hee head-to-head for WTO top job

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee are the finalists in the race to become the next World Trade Organization Director-General.

It’s now evident the 25-year-old WTO will have its first female leader.

The race had also attracted  Kenya’s Amina Mohamed, United Kingdom’s Liam Fox and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri.

But the trio failed to secure enough support to guarantee their move to the final round of the selection process leaving the two candidates to battle it out the final phase of the race that will kick off later this month and will run all the way to November 6.

The winner will replace Brazilian Roberto Azevedo who stepped down on August 31, 2020, a year before end of his term. He was in office for seven years since 2013.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala poses outside a Nigerian diplomatic residence in Chambesy, near Geneva, Switzerland, September 29, 2020.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian-born economist and international development expert.

She served as Nigerian Finance and Foreign Minister. She was appointed as Finance Minister in July 2011 and as foreign affairs minister in June 2006.

According to The Rockefeller Foundation, Okonjo-Iweala previously served as a Managing Director of the World Bank where she had oversight responsibility for the World Bank’s operational portfolio in Africa, South Asia and Europe and Central Asia. She spearheaded several World Bank initiatives to assist low-income countries.

She sits on the Boards of Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, and the African Risk Capacity.

Born in 1954, Okonjo-Iweala has said the WTO should play a role in helping poorer countries access Covid-19 drugs and vaccines.

Yoo Myung-hee

South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee.

South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee is an innovator, negotiator, strategist and pioneer in her 25-year career in trade.

She is South Korea’s first female Trade minister. Her life in the Asian country has been defined by Korea’s increasing prosperity and growth in the multilateral trading world.

Her biography as outlined by WTO, she has devoted her career to progress in the multilateral trade arena from the early days in 1995 when she took charge of WTO affairs in the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, through her role as Korea’s key FTA strategist to, more recently, negotiator of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Korea-China FTA and the critical Korea-US (KORUS) FTA renegotiation, among other trade initiatives.

Yoo’s belief in the importance of the multilateral system and its constant renewal derives from Korea’s position as a major beneficiary of the open trading system represented by WTO.

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