FORMER finance minister Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been provided with stiff opposition in her quest to become the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) after South Korea announced it is fielding trade minister Yoo Myung-Hee for the job.
Early this month, President Muhammadu Buhari, nominated Dr Okonjo-Iweala, 65, as his candidate for the position, after withdrawing the candidacy of Yonov Agah, Nigeria’s permanent representative to WTO. In a bid boost for her candidacy, the governments of the 15 nations that make up the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) have unanimously backed Dr Okonjo-Iweala.
Yesterday, South Korea provided her with a stiff challenge by nominating Ms Myung-Hee, the country’s first female trade minister as its own candidate for the position. Ms Myung-Hee, 53, has been a negotiator, strategist and pioneer in her 25-year career in the international trade sector.
She has played in the multilateral trade arena from the early days in 1995 when she took charge of WTO affairs in the Korea Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, and was later given the role of being Korea’s trade strategist. Like Dr Okonjo-Iweala, she is seeking to replace Roberto Azvedez, who will be stepping down on August 31.
Most recently, Ms Myung-Hee served as negotiator of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the Korea-China Free Trade Agreement and the critical Korea-US Free Trade Agreement renegotiations, among other trade initiatives. She will now face Dr Okonjo-Iweala at the elections which will hold in Geneva, Switzerland in 2021.