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Two women finalists to take charge of the WTO

Barring a very last-minute change, two women – Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Korean Yoo Myung-hee – remain, according to AFP, the only ones in the race for the post of head of the Organization world trade. The WTO, in crisis not least because of repeated assaults by the Trump administration , has so far always been led by men.

The names of the two finalists are expected to be officially announced this Thursday, at WTO headquarters in Geneva, once delegations have been informed. But several sources indicated, according to AFP, that the Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had been chosen as well as the Korean Yoo Myung-hee. The two women received heavy support earlier this week from the European Union.

Economic ministries

Both have been brought in during their careers to find themselves at the head of economic ministries. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala , 66, was the first woman in her country to lead the ministries of finance and foreign affairs. An economist by training, she was also director of operations for the World Bank.

At 53, Yoo Myung-hee is the first woman from South Korea to take the reins of the Ministry of Commerce. She has devoted her career to trade, taking charge of the WTO dossier in 1995 and then leading the negotiations on free trade agreements, in particular the one linking China to South Korea. She also worked at the South Korean Embassy in China (2007-2010).

Final round in early November

If one of these two women were to be appointed at the end of a final round of negotiations which should normally end on November 6, she would then be the first to take the head of the organization which has the task of organize the orderly liberalization of world trade. The three other contenders who remained in contention after a first selection round were Britain’s Liam Fox, Saudi Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri and Kenyan Amina Mohamed.

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