South Korea appears to have decided to withdraw its candidate from the race for the World Trade Organisation Director-General, paving the way for Nigeria’s candidate, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to be confirmed as the head of the global trade body.
Yoo Myung-hee is South Korea’s Trade Minister and its candidate for the top job at the WTO following the resignation of Roberto Azevedo.
Okonjo-Iweala had secured the popular vote by a wide margin on October 28 but was not named DG because the United States opposed her candidacy.
The two women are the last candidates standing and the eventual winner will set a record as being the first female WTO DG.
According to Washington Trade Daily, people familiar with the development said South Korea will announce its decision to withdraw Myung-hee in the coming days to enable the WTO’s General Council to appoint Okonjo-Iweala.
The Washington-based news medium further stated that South Korea had already conveyed its decision to the United States, which had been insisting on the selection of Myung-hee.
Part of the reason for the position adopted by the United States against Okonjo-Iweala is that she is perceived to be close to the Democratic Party, according to the WTD.
The WTO had scheduled a General Council meeting for November 9, which was postponed after the Geneva Canton imposed new restrictions on meetings in the face of the sudden surge in COVID-19 cases.
Most of the WTO meetings are largely being held virtually through Internet platforms.
In order to take decisions by the General Council, a quorum of 82 members must be present at the meeting.
A General Council meeting has been scheduled to take place on December 17 but it is not clear whether the meeting can take place if the current restrictions continue next month.