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WTO: Coast clear for Okonjo-Iweala as South Korea candidate withdraws

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South Korea’s trade minister Yoo Myung-hee said on Friday, 5 February, that she has decided to withdraw from the race to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO), three months after the body halted a consensus-based process to pick the next chief.

The World Trade Organization cancelled a meeting in early November last year to decide on the appointment of Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its new head after the US administration of former President Donald Trump rejected her as a candidate.

Yoo, who had the backing of the United States, had not withdrawn from the race despite mounting diplomatic pressure to bow out.

“In order to promote the functions of WTO and in consideration of various factors, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy, Yoo said in a statement.

Yoo said her decision was made after consulting with allies including the United States.

A high-powered WTO panel in October recommended Okonjo-Iweala, a former finance minister, to lead the global trade watchdog, setting her up to become its first African and first woman head.

The Nigerian economist, who is also a US citizen, emerged as the front-runner for the WTO director-general post last year. The US has been the only country to oppose her.

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