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Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala and Yoo Myung-hee, final candidates for the DG of the WTO

Coast clear for Okonjo-Iweala as South Korea withdraws candidate from WTO DG race

South Korea has withdrawn its candidate, Yoo Myung-hee from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) director-general race, according to reports from Washington Trade Daily.

Following the resignation of Roberto Azevedo from the position, and a long race to fill the role, Yoo Myung-hee, South Korea’s trade minister and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former finance minister, were the last candidates standing.

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On October 28, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had secured the popular vote by a wide margin, and the WTO also said she had the best chance of getting a consensus. However, she was not named DG because the US opposed her candidacy.

In a twist of events, there have been speculations that the US might change its stance on Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy, following Donald Trump’s failure to get re-elected as president.

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According to Washington Trade Daily, sources say South Korea has notified the US of its decision and is expected to make it public “in the coming days”.

“Washington refused to accept the recommendation made by the selection panel chaired by General Council Chair Ambassador David Walker that Ms Okonjo-Iweala is the candidate most likely of the two to attract consensus because she clearly carried the largest support by members in the final round and clearly enjoyed broad support from members from all levels of development and from all geographic regions and has done so throughout the process,” the report read.
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“Yoo from Korea failed to receive enough support from members of all levels of development -1e., the developed, developing and least developing countries, as well as geographically in comparison to the “largest” support received by Ms Okonjo-Iweala.”

The November 8 general council meeting scheduled to consider the appointment of the next DG was also postponed and another general council meeting has been scheduled for December 17.

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