Home Business Exclusive! Okonjo-Iweala, Myung-hee Intensify Bids For WTO D-G As Final Round Opens...
- China Finally Backs Okonjo-Iweala, Asia-Pacific Leans Towards Myung-hee…
- EU Still Divided As US, Japan, Others Weigh Options…
- Buhari, S’Korea’s Moon In last Minute Massive Telephone Calls…
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in have intensified high-level telephone calls , diplomatic cables and letters to each of the 164 member nations of the World Trade Organization(WTO) in a bid to win the nod of the preponderance of consensus support of member countries in favour of their respective candidates by October 27.
Nigeria’s former Finance Minister and a former Managing director of the World Bank, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s serving Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee are the two finalists that made it to the last selection and decisive stage which commences this Monday .
Recall that The World Trade Organization (WTO)’s General Council, the overall organ of the organization responsible for picking its next DG had last week 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, 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 had 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.”
Last week, Okonjo-Iweala, met with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Thereafter, Buhari reportedly pledged to commence more telephone calls, and write more letters to world leaders to solicit their express backing and support to Nigeria’s candidate.
Presidency sources revealed that in line with the President’s promise, the presidency has been working hard, reaching out to various regional power blocs to elicit tacit diplomatic support for Okonjo-Iweala. As at Friday, Okonjo-Iweala herself expressed optimism in her quest to emerge DG of the crisis-ridden WTO.
This revelation which she made via a virtual press briefing came after the 55-member African Union threw its block support behind her over, and above South Korea’s Myung-hee.
According to the former Finance minister, the prospects are increasingly very bright for her as she claimed she has secured the backing of about 79 countries of the 164 members of the WTO. This include the 55 African Union Countries. “I feel the wind behind my back,” she said.
On Yoo Myung-hee’s part, her country’s leader, South Korea’s president Moon has also reached out to many world leaders including Japan, China, EU, Asia-Pacific, North American countries, the United States, among others. On Thursday, President Moon held a strategy meeting with his cabinet ministers who are part of the campaign team of Yoo in a bid to intensify moves to secure more broad support for Myung-hee’s candidacy as next head of WTO.
According to Moon, South Korea must rally allies and other world nations to support Myung-hee for the purpose of advancing multilateral trade and boosting the regime of free trade. “We must continue our campaign of emphasizing Yoo as the best candidate to reform the WTO,” Moon was quoted as saying .
He added:. “During the remaining election period, I will do my best to support Yoo by sending letters and making phone calls to state leaders from around the world.”
Myung-hee herself was quoted as saying. “I will concentrate my campaign on winning votes evenly from different regions and to become a secretary-general who receives support from all WTO members.”
To this end, she schedules to depart for Europe this Monday to “concentrate her final days of the campaign in the region”.
In this final crucial round, each of the 164 WTO member nation is expected to express its support for one of the two finalists-Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee.
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 last Thursday to the final run-off.
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.
The initial pool of eight candidates to replace Brazilian career diplomat Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down as WTO chief in August, was narrowed down to five in last month’s first round.
Okonjo-Iweala, 66, served as Nigeria’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 WTO had warned that given this development, 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
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