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News around Africa - October 8, 2020

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Reaches Final Stage in the WTO DG Race

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s nominee for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation ( WTO), has been chosen as one of the two female candidates to proceed to the final stage of the race to lead the Geneva-based global trade body.

Several sources familiar with the decision of the Member States told AFP that “Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala had made it,” while one source said that “South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee had also made the cut.”

The candidacies of Okonjo-Iweala and Yoo got a boost earlier this week when EU member states formally put their weight behind them.

History is set to be made with this development, as the WTO is expected to have its first female director-general in its 25-year history and Nigeria could be making this history with Okonjo getting to the final stage of the race.

The Chairman of the General Council of the WTO, Mr. David Walker, is scheduled to officially announce the results this morning to the institution’s delegates in Geneva.

In the second round of consultations, the United Kingdom’s Liam Fox, Kenya’s Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril, and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri did not gain enough support; Bloomberg cited insiders who are familiar with the matter.

READ ALSO: EU Endorses Okonjo-Iweala as DG of World Trade Organization

The third and final phase of the consultation process will begin later this month and run until 6 November, with the WTO naming a race winner by consensus.

The United States’ November 3 presidential election is clouding the outlook for the selection process.

On a consensus basis, the WTO makes decisions, and a lack of American support for either of the candidates could lead to delays in choosing the new Director-General.

If, by consensus, WTO members are unable to appoint a chief, a vote requiring a qualified majority may be held as a last resort, which would be an unprecedented development in the organisation.

The race to head the WTO during the most different time period of its 25-year existence is taking place amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a worldwide recession, the US-China battle for trade supremacy and the American election.

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