Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala Projected to lead WTO as Korean Candidate Withdraws

US trying to Scuffle Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala 's Ambition at WTO

Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, who is also a US citizen, Ngozi Okonjo_Iweala, now has a clearer path to becoming the leader of the World Trade Organization (WTO) after rival Korean Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee withdrew her bid in the race.

Yoo decided after discussions with the U.S. and other major nations, and took various issues into account including the need to revitalize the multilateral organization, according to a statement from Korea’s trade ministry on Friday.

“There was no consensus,” Yoo said. “So we needed enough time for in-depth consultations with important members, including the U.S.”

Nigeria's Okonjo-Iweala Projected to lead WTO as Korean Candidate Withdraws Yoo Myung-hee US trying to Scuffle Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's Ambition at WTO
Yoo Myung-hee

The withdrawal comes 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, making the U.S. and Korea the only holdouts favoring Yoo. That opposition was enough to halt the selection process because WTO decisions are made on the basis of a consensus of its members.

By quitting the race, Yoo would appear to be clearing Okonjo-Iweala’s path to secure the leadership of the Geneva-based institution. But as the Biden administration forms its trade team, few clues have emerged publicly about whether it will lift U.S. opposition to Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy. The U.S. mission at WTO headquarters didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg’s request for comment.

Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, 66, listed as one of the most influential people on earth by Forbes, was appointed into the board of social media giant, Twitter Inc in 2018.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala also served in the administration of former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, and was appointed alongside Robert Zoellick as new independent directors with Twitter.

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