*S’Korea writes Washington, gives reasons for withdrawing from race…
South Korea’s trade minister, Yoo Myung-hee who has remained the opponent of Nigeria’s former finance minister and recommended candidate for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organization(WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has reportedly dropped from the race.
This latest development follows the decision of South Korea to withdraw Yoo Myung-hee, from the race for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General, a decision which it has reportedly communicated to the United States.
Recall that the United States is the only country that has been blocking Okonjo-Iweala’s confirmation after she emerged as the most widely accepted and preferred candidate by member nations following her choice by the Ambassador David Walker-led WTO General Council.
With this latest move, Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala effectively becomes the lone person standing as she has no rival anymore.
Washington Trade Daily (WTD), a United States based publication quoting people who are quite conversant with the dynamics and protocols of the WTO say Okonjo-Iweala has been scheduled to be confirmed as the substantive DG of WTO on December 17 at a scheduled General Council meeting in Geneva.
This is barring any last minute change in the already determined schedule and procedural dynamics.
The publication also stated that South Korea was being expected to announce its decision to withdraw Myung-hee’s candidacy “in the coming days to enable the WTO’s General Council effectively announce the confirmation of Okonjo-Iweala.”
It was not clear why the United States has been blocking Okonjo-Iweala’s choice but the Washington-based Washington Trade Daily (WD) said it has to do partly with her being perceived by the out-going administration as ” close to the Democratic Party.”
Recall that the WTO had originally scheduled a General Council meeting for November 9, which was postponed after the Geneva Canton imposed new restrictions on meetings in the face of the escalating rise in Covid-19 cases as correctly reported by The New Diplomat earlier.
This development prompted members of the WTO General Council to hold meetings via digital enabled process or virtually using popular digital channels such as zoom and webex.
To arrive at an acceptable decision, the WTO protocols maintain that the General Council must form a quorum of 82 members who must be present at the scheduled meeting, among others dynamics.
Checks indicate that Ambassador Walker and his team may have scheduled a General Council meeting to take place on December 17 during which Okonjo-Iweala’s confirmation is expected to be discussed and passed.
However, the US- based Washington Trade Daily (WTD) which broke the story last night said it is still unclear whether the meeting would hold as scheduled given the restrictions that have been slammed on various international jurisdictions by various governments, including Geneva in a bid to stem recent upsurge in cases of COVID-19.
Recall that The New Diplomat had broken the news in October how Okonjo-Iweala emerged as the preferred choice of the Ambassador David Walker’s led General Council team, making her the first female to be recommended for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organization(WTO), shattering the glass ceiling.
According to the newspaper, the decision among some of the key, and influential nations within the global power bloc to move in Nigeria’s direction followed very tough, rigorous and high-level negotiations with China reportedly tilting the dynamics.
The New Diplomat Europe’s outpost office had reported with accuracy that with the EU nations and the United States moving in opposite direction, a move that triggered a deadlock between the two powerful geo-political allies for the first time in many years, it was the decisive and quiet support of China that finally tipped the scales in Okonjo-Iweala’s favour.
Recall also that The New Diplomat had reported that the WTO’s Ambassador Walker’s led General Council, the overall organ responsible for picking the organization’s next DG, was scheduled to officially announce the choice of Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Dr Okonjo-Iweala on October 27 to the WTO member nations, barring any unforeseen changes in the organization’s schedule.
Diplomatic sources had correctly confided in The New Diplomat that the official pronouncement or announcement to this effect was billed to be formally made by New Zealand’s Ambassador Walker’s led WTO General Council.
Recall that the race for the coveted job of DG of WTO has been fierce with Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s serving Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee, running neck-and-neck in the intense jostle and game of global diplomatic intrigues.
Okonjo-Iweala, 66, served as Nigeria’s first female finance and later foreign minister, and has a 25-year career behind her as a development economist and international finance expert 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.
On her part, Yoo Myung-hee 53, is the serving South Korea’s trade minister, following a long career in trade, diplomacy, law and foreign affairs. She had 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
More details later…