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Nigeria’s Former Finance Minister Makes it to the WTO Final Two Spot

The selection of a new director general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is entering its final stage. The final two – from an initial list of eight candidates – are Nigeria’s former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korean trade minister YooMyung-hee. Both are female which means that if members of the WTO can coalesce around one them in the final stages of selection, it will be the first time the job has been taken by a woman. Ms Okonjo-Iweala and Ms Yoo both have political and international experience and both were students at American universities. MsOkonjo-Iweala, who also has US nationality, has had two spells as finance minister and a short stint as foreign minister in Nigeria. Much of her career was spent as an economist at the World Bank. She eventually rose to the position of managing director, essentially second in command at the institution. She has been an unsuccessful candidate for the top job at the bank. She is currently chair of the board of the international vaccines alliance, Gavi. She has not spent her career immersed in the details of trade policy as some other candidates did. But her work as a development economist and finance minister means she has often had to deal with international trade. She describes trade as “a mission and a passion”. Ms Okonjo-Iweala wouldbe the first African to be director general of the WTO.