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Holding Our Breath for an African at the WTO Helm

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is in a good position to become the first African to head the World Trade Organization. According to sources, the majority of EU member states voted in favor of her taking the top job. But no decision has been taken yet. WTO members are choosing between Nigeria’s former finance minister and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee, 53, the first woman from her country to head the Ministry of Commerce. During a closed-door meeting on Monday morning, most of the 27 EU member states expressed their preference for the African candidate, according to a European source. A dozen others, who leaned more for the South Korean, said they were ready to join this majority. Two other member states, Hungary and a Baltic state, however, refused to join the consensus. A consensus will have to be found for the November 7 deadline. The winner will succeed Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who unexpectedly left the WTO at the end of August, a year early. The next head of the institution will have to face the economic crisis and a trade war between the two leading world economic powers, China and the United States.


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