February 7th – one of the last two candidates for the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), announced his withdrawal from the selection.
The United States, who originally supported Yu Mingxi, subsequently expressed its support for the only candidate, former finance minister of Nigeria, Okonjo Iveala.
This means that the deadlock of the WTO Director-General’s “difficult childbirth” is about to be broken, and the first African-American female Director-General is expected to be welcomed in the short term.
[After more than 5 months of vacancy, the WTO will welcome a new Director-General]
Azevedo, the sixth Director-General of the WTO, left office on August 31, 2020, ending his term one year earlier.
After two rounds of consultations, only two women, the Nigerian candidate Ngozi Okonjo-Iveala and South Korean candidate Yu Mingxi, are left.
On October 28, the WTO Director General selected the “Trinity Group” to declare Ngozi Okonjo-Iveala the only recommended candidate for the new Director-General.
The United States expressed no support, saying it would continue to support South Korean candidate Yu Mingxi’s candidacy.
According to WTO regulations, it is necessary for all 164 member states to reach consensus before candidates can be elected.
Therefore, the candidate for the Director-General of WTO is “difficult to give birth”, and the position has been vacant for more than five months.
After U.S. President Biden took office, Washington changed its previous position and finally broke the deadlock.
On February 5, 2021, Yu Mingxi said she would withdraw from the competition, saying that she had made the decision after “close communication” with the United States.
On the same day, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office issued a statement saying that the Biden administration “strongly supports” Oconjo-Iveala as the Director-General of the World Trade Organization, describing her rich knowledge in economic and international diplomacy and experience in managing large international organizations.
Washington is ready to cooperate with her to carry out major reforms in the WTO.
Keith Rockwell, spokesman of the WTO, said that the next regular meeting of the General Council will not be held until after March 1, 2021 at the earliest, but it is also “may be called another meeting at short notice” to fill the vacancy as soon as possible.
[Who is she? Nigeria’s former finance minister, committed to promoting WTO reform]
In the past 20 years, Iveala has served twice as Nigeria’s Finance Minister and briefly served as Foreign Minister.
On the international stage, Iveala has been an economist at the World Bank for a long time.
At the end of 2007, he was promoted to the Managing Director and currently serves as the chairman of the International Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) to help distribute the coronavirus vaccine worldwide.
In an interview in August 2020, Iveala said that trade will play an important role in the economic recovery after the epidemic.
“The WTO needs a new face at this time, a leader with the ability to implement reforms and work with member states to ensure that the WTO emerges from its current partially paralysis.” She promised to promote WTO reform, emphasizing that the WTO should play an important role in helping poor countries obtain coronavirus vaccines and drugs.