For the first time in the World Trade Organization’s history, the agency will appoint a female director-general, as the two remaining considerations for the role are both women.
The World Trade Organization will finally have a female leader for the first time in history. Last week, the WTO narrowed the selection to two women for its next director-general later this year after its previous leader left the post.
Vacant Post for WTO Director-General
The Geneva-based global trade agency announced last October 8 the finalists for its next and seventh director-general. Specifically, the selection came down to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee. The next part of the consultation for the role will start on October 19.
These are the candidates moving on for members' further consideration. The result creates an historic precedent for the WTO: the 7th Director-General will become the first woman to lead the Organization. Consultations resume on 19 Oct #WTODG
Find out more: https://t.co/q4pHXjEl2z pic.twitter.com/l4viBOncSk
— WTO (@wto) October 8, 2020
The decision to appoint a new director-general comes as Roberto Azevedo stepped down from the post last August. Particularly, Azevedo left the position with one year left remaining for his term. Moreover, he left at a time of crisis for the organization with the trade spat between the US and China. Whoever had to replace Azevedo will have to deal with the geopolitical tensions affecting trade.
Candidate 1: The Nigerian Economist and Vaccine Alliance Chair
Okonjo-Iweala’s previous experiences include becoming the managing director of World Bank operations after serving as an economist. Moreover, the former Nigerian finance minister also joined the board of Twitter and became a chair of the board of an immunization alliance organization called Gavi. ABC News reports that if Okonjo-Iweala grabs the post, she will be the first African person to lead the WTO.
Moreover, Okonjo-Iweala expressed in a tweet her excitement for being shortlisted for the position. “Thanks, WTO members for your continued support of my candidacy. I could not have made it without the prayers and support of all Nigerians and friends around the world,” she wrote.
Candidate 2: The First Female South Korean Trade Minister
Meanwhile, Yoo’s earlier experience includes a brief job at the Korean Embassy in Beijing. At the moment, she serves as a Minister for Trade in South Korea, in which she became the first woman in the role. Previously, she also worked with the WTO in the country since 1995. BBC reports that the Trade Minister has also been part of key trade negotiations in South Korea, as well as between the US and China.
Likewise, Yoo also declared her gratefulness over Twitter. She added: “We need a capable and experienced new leader who can rebuild trust and restore relevance of the [WTO].”