Last round to decide between candidates for the WTO

It will be a woman. This is the first certainty that emerges as the last phase of negotiations opens on Monday, October 19, which should allow the 164 member countries of the World Trade Organization to choose the new figurehead of the institution responsible for ensuring the reign of the world. order in international trade.

CV as long as a supercargo

After a first round which had brought out eight candidates, then a second with only five qualified, there are now only two candidates in the running to become general manager. The two finalists have a long CV like a supercargo, both in their country of origin and on the international scene. And one of them will become the first woman to take the head of the WTO, which succeeded Gatt from 1995.

An economist by training, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, 66, was the first woman to lead the ministries of finance and foreign affairs in Nigeria. She has also served as the World Bank’s Chief Operating Officer and President of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (Gavi). His candidacy received the support of the countries of the African Union and the ” full support From the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OEACP) which brings together 79 countries.

Her only rival is Korean Yoo Myung-hee. At 53, this literary graduate in her country and holder of a doctorate in law from the United States, was also a pioneer. The first woman from her country to be appointed Minister of Trade, in 2019, she notably led the negotiations on free trade agreements with China and the United Kingdom.

Long process

Started since the summer, the designation process is reaching its final stretch. Discussions should last until the end of the month, “To give members time to prepare their answers”, recently explained the spokesperson of the WTO. With the objective of reaching a designation before the deadline set for November 7.

The future boss will then replace the Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who left the WTO at the end of August for family reasons and who replaced the French Pascal Lamy in 2013. It will then have to focus on overcoming the crisis of confidence that plagues the organization, battered by the harsh and recurring criticisms of the Trump administration and the specter of a new trade war between Europe and the United States and especially between the United States and China.

“It is obvious that the one who gets the job will have a lot to do on her first day of work”, has already warned the spokesperson for the institution.

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