*Confidential Memo Reveals How WTO Council ‘ll Pick Next DG… Oct 27.
The World Trade Organization (WTO)’s General Council, the overall organ of the organization responsible for picking its next Director-General has revealed in a confidential memo sent to Heads of delegation of WTO member states how it is going to pick one of the two finalists- Nigeria’s former finance minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee -in the decisive race for WTO’s DG.
In the confidential memo dated October 8, 2020 and copy obtained by The New Diplomat’s European outpost, chairman of the WTO General Council, Ambassador David Walker of New Zealand disclosed that the third and final stage of his council’s consultations to determine and aggregate the preponderance of preferences of Heads of delegations to the WTO would commence on October 19th and end October 27th, signaling the close of consultations and the likely date the Walker- led Council would likely rein in.
In the memo entitled “Appointment of the Next Director-General”, Ambassador Walker listed the consultation dates for delegates to meet with the General Council on their preferences, and choice for the DG position as October19, 20,21,23, and 27, stressing that his Council “will be available to meet with delegations for up to 10 minutes each”.
He said, “This will be the third and last round of consultations. As I emphasized at the Heads of Delegation meeting, any preference received in the previous rounds of consultations will not be used in the third round.
“I would therefore urge all Members to come forward once again to meet with us and to express their preference on the basis of the final slate of candidates. Delegations are kindly asked to contact the Secretariat to schedule a slot for consultations.”
This last phase will effectively determine the fate of Nigeria’s former finance minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, as they fight head-to-head for the exalted seat of WTO DG.
The 25 year old WTO is set to have its first female leader after Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Myung-hee made it through Thursday to the final run-off, a WTO spokesman had announced.
Both Okonjo-Iweala and Myung-hee saw off competition from Britain’s Liam Fox, Kenya’s Amina Mohamed and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad al-Tuwaijri in the second round of the battle to become the next director-general of the WTO.
“Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Korean minister Yoo Myung-hee will advance to the third and final stage of consultations,” WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell told reporters at the global trade body’s headquarters in Geneva, following a meeting where the news was announced to member states. The third stage will run from October 19 to October 27,” he said, with a winner to be announced before November 7.
The initial pool of eight candidates to replace Brazilian career diplomat Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down as WTO chief in August a year ahead of schedule, was narrowed down to five in last month’s first round.
Rather than straightforward elections, the WTO eliminates its leadership candidates through a process of consensus and preferences. Recall that both Okonjo-Iweala and Myung-hee’s candidacies received a boost earlier this week when EU member states officially threw their weight behind them.
Okonjo-Iweala, 66, served as her country’s first female finance and foreign minister, and has a 25-year career behind her as a development economist at the World Bank, eventually becoming its number two. She is also on Twitter’s board of directors and is a special envoy for the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 fight. If she emerges triumphant from the final elimination round, she would not only be the first woman, but also the first African to lead the global trade body.
Myung-hee, 53, on her part, is currently serving as South Korea’s first female trade minister, following a long career in trade, diplomacy, law and foreign affairs. She has previously served as South Korea’s foreign Affairs minister, among others. A lawyer and diplomat, Myung-hee holds degrees in Law, Public Policy and was called to the New York Bar.
Whoever is handed the top job in the end will be taking over an organization that has been mired in multiple crises, and struggling to help members navigate a severe global economic slump triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, some analysts maintained.
Already before the Covid-19 crisis hit, the organisation was grappling with stalled trade talks and struggling to curb tensions between the United States and China. The global trade body has also faced relentless attacks from Washington, which has crippled the WTO dispute settlement appeal system and threatened to leave the organisation altogether.
The WTO forecast on Tuesday that global trade, devastated by the coronavirus crisis, will shrink by less than expected this year but the rebound will also be much weaker than previously forecast.
Revising its prior “optimistic scenario” forecast of at least a 12.9-percent contraction in 2020, the WTO said it now expected global trade to shrink by just 9.2 percent this year.
But it will then grow by only 7.2 percent next year, rather than the previous 21.3 percent estimate issued in April, the WTO added.
“World trade shows signs of bouncing back from a deep, COVID-19-induced slump, but WTO economists caution that any recovery could be disrupted by the ongoing pandemic effects,” the global trade body said in a statement.
It further warned that the pace of trade expansion could slow sharply once pent-up demand is exhausted and business inventories have been replenished. More negative outcomes were also possible if there is a resurgence of the coronavirus between now and the end of the year, it said. Global gross domestic product will fall by 4.8 percent in 2020 before rising by 4.9 percent in 2021, the WTO forecast