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Nigeria's Okonjo-Iweala poised to head WTO after South Korean candidate quits

Nigerian former Foreign and Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala   -  
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FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP or licensors

Nigeria

The former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is now poised to become the leader of the World Trade Organization following the withdrawal of South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee.

Yoo's withdrawal came to pass after dozens of former U.S. government officials urged President Joe Biden to endorse Okonjo-Iweala after the Trump administration blocked her selection in 2020.

The 164-members of the WTO are scheduled to meet later to pass a consensus to appoint Okonjo-Iweala.

The global trade body is thus set to be led by a woman for the first time whichever of the two final candidates succeeds in their bid to follow Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down as WTO director-general in August a year ahead of schedule.

Okonjo-Iweala to become the first woman and the first African to head the organization.

Okonjo-Iweala, 66, who served as her country's first female finance and foreign minister and has a 25-year career behind her as a development economist at the World Bank, welcomed the troika's support.

Okonjo-Iweala, who also serves on Twitter's board of directors, as chair of the GAVI vaccine alliance and as a special envoy for the World Health Organization's Covid-19 fight, saw her candidacy boosted when the EU threw its weight behind her.

Even before the Covid-19 crisis hit, the WTO was already grappling with stalled trade talks and struggling to curb tensions between the United States and China.

The global trade body has also faced relentless attacks from Washington, which has crippled the WTO dispute settlement appeal system and threatened to leave the organization altogether.

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