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WTO postpones final decision on its new chief executive

By Xinhua | November 9th 2020
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria was poised to become the new WTO Director-General.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Friday postponed a General Council special meeting on the appointment of the next Director-General slated for today, citing reasons including “health situation and current events.”

Analysts, however, point to contested US presidential polls that saw Joe Biden oust President Donald Trump as the key reason.

“It has come to my attention that for reasons, including the health situation and current events, delegations will not be in a position to take a formal decision on November 9,” General Council Chair David Walker of New Zealand said in a written statement to all members.

“I am therefore postponing this meeting until further notice during which period I will continue to undertake consultations with delegations”.

On October 28, Walker told WTO members that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria was poised to become the new Director-General, based on their consultations.

“She carried the largest support by members in the final round and she clearly enjoyed broad support from members from all levels of development and all geographic regions and has done so throughout the process,” Walker said.

Formal decision

He noted that a formal decision had to be taken by the members at a General Council meeting, originally scheduled for November 9. But the assessment was challenged by the US, which said it would continue to support South Korea’s Minister for Trade Yoo Myung-hee.

Since early October, Okonjo-Iweala had been facing off against Yoo in the final round of race to become the new director-general of WTO. If selected, Okonjo-Iweala would become the first woman and African to head the global trade watchdog in its 25-year history.

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