Business International

27 EU states back Okonjo Iweala for WTO Chief leaving Yoo Myung-hee’s bid unclear

Member nations of the European Union (EU) have agreed to endorse former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next head of the World Trade Organization (WTO), with some saying Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee is now fighting an uphill battle.

Citing unnamed sources on Monday, AFP reported that the EU is expected to publicly announce its support for former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Tuesday.

After failing to reach consensus at the first meeting earlier in the day, the 27 EU member states eventually agreed to throw their support behind the 66-year-old economist.

While this does not bode well for South Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, who is the other finalist in the race, the Seoul government says it’s not yet over.

In addition to winning a majority of support from the 164-member states of the WTO, another process to choose the next leader involves securing a general consensus.

Also diplomatic sources say it’s too early to call the race, given the complex interests involved in international politics.

One source said seven nations in the EU wanted their preference for South Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee to be noted, but another said that backing Okonjo-Iweala was “a clear signal to Africa and a sign of mutual trust.”

The WTO hopes to select its new leader by November 7. South Korean President Moon Jae-in continues his campaign to promote Yoo, speaking on the phone with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday in a bid to win his nation’s support for the South Korean trade minister.

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