Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is set to take up the role of the first woman, and first African Director-General of the World Trade Organization.
In October 2020, she secured 104 out of 164 votes to become the first African to head the World Trade Organization.
Okonjo-Iweala who was the only African left in the race beat South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee for the top role.
Member countries in the European Union and ECOWAS all endorsed her candidacy but the USA under former president Trump opposed her candidacy.
That forced the General Counsel to postpone the announcement of the new Director-General.
But on Friday the South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee withdrew her candidacy following consultations with the US who backed her as well as other countries.
She said: “South Korea will actively contribute to reaching consensus for the next WTO chief and co-operate with her and participate in the WTO reform process.”
In a statement on Twitter, Okonjo-Iweala said she was “grateful for the expression of support from the US today for DG of the WTO”.
She also said “congratulations to Madam Yoo of Rep. Korea for a hard fought campaign.” and thanked Nigerian “President Muhammadu Buhari and all Nigerians for your unflinching support.”
Grateful for the expression of support from the US today for DG @WTO. Congratulations to Madam Yoo of Rep. Korea for a hard fought campaign.Thank You President Muhammadu Buhari @MBuhari &all Nigerians for your unflinching support.Thank you friends. Love to my family.Glory to God.
— Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (@NOIweala) February 5, 2021
In a statement, the White House said “US stands ready to engage in the next phase of the WTO process for reaching a consensus decision on the WTO Director General”.
An official announcement will soon be made about the new boss of the WTO but it is certain it will be a woman in its 25-year history.
Once the process is completed, Okonjo-Iweala should succeed Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who unexpectedly left the WTO at the end of August 2020, a year early than expected.
Okonjo-Iweala previously served as Nigeria’s finance minister on two occasions and once as a foreign affairs minister.
She also served as former managing director of the World Bank and as a chairperson at the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.