South Korean minister dismisses bid to head the WTO

Photo: AP Yoo Myung-hee (left) and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

South Korea’s minister of trade Yoo Myung-hee will not accept the bid to become the next director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), AP reported, quoting official statement of the ministry. The statement also noted that the WTO will soon be officially informed.

Yoo Myung-hee was the top nominee for the post and by resigning from the competition should pave the way for the other contender - former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to head the WTO.

The WTO, which makes world trade rules, announced in October that Yoo and Okonjo-Iweala were the two finalists to become its next director-general, ensuring a woman will fill the top job for the first time. The WTO had ben expected to announce a winner before the end of 2020, but the process dragged on because of disagreements between member states over the candidates, the South Korean ministry said.

While it appeared Okonjo-Iweala had broader support, the WTO operates by consensus, which means that any single member country can block decisions. The South Korean ministry said Yoo discussed her candidacy with officials from the US and other WTO member states before deciding to withdraw over “comprehensive” considerations.

The previous WTO director-general, Roberto Azevedo of Brazil, made a surprise announcement in May last year that he would leave the job a year early, citing a “personal decision.” He left without a successor at the end of August.

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