World Trade Organization: Okonjo-Iweala advances to final stage

23 Sep 2009 --- epa01871956 Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director of The World Bank listens to speakers during a panel discussion on the second day of the fifth annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York, New York, USA, on 23 September 2009. The annual meetings, which run from September 22 through 25, is led by Bill Clinton to address poverty, health, climate change, and other worldwide issues drawing activists and political leaders from around the world. EPA/RAMIN TALAIE --- Image by © RAMIN TALAIE/epa/Corbis

Former Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has advanced to the final round in the race to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Members of the Geneva-based trade body also selected South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee.

The PUNCH reports the final two were selected from a list of five candidates.

The initial pool of eight candidates to replace Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down as WTO director-general in August – a year ahead of schedule, was narrowed down to five last month.

The three eliminated during the second round of “confessionals” – in which all member states confidentially voice their preferences – were Liam Fox of Britain, Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri of Saudi Arabia, and Amina Mohamed of Kenya.

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Jesus Saede Kuri of Mexico, Tudor Ulianovschi of Moldova and Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh of Egypt were cut during the first round.

The WTO will likely have the first female director-general in its 25-year history as no woman has ever headed the global trade body. The official announcement of the two candidates left standing is expected tomorrow (Thursday).

But several sources familiar with the member states’ decision told AFP that “Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria had made it”, while one source said “Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea had also made the cut”.

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