AfricaPress-Tanzania: The World Trade Organisation (WTO) seeks to build a more inclusive trading system that will allow more women to participate in trade and to reap the economic benefits of global trading.

This is because trade can play an important role in driving women’s economic empowerment which in turn has a positive impact on poverty reduction.

The benefits of trade to women-owned businesses are significant and so are the benefits to the broader economy from greater engagement of women in international trade.

According to WTO, empowering women is a significant step on the road towards achieving sustainable development.

It is from this background that gives justification to say this is right time for a woman to lead the world trade body for the first time.

Supporting the integration of women into international trade is fundamental to ensuring that everyone can reap the benefits of global trade.

Out of eight candidates who have been nominated by their respective governments for the post of WTO Director-General, three of them are women from South Korea (Yoo Myung-hee), Kenya (Ambassador Amina C. Mohamed) and Nigeria (Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala).

They are battling five men from Egypt, Mexico, UK, Moldova and Saudi Arabia to succeed the current Director-General, Mr Roberto Azevêdo, who has announced he will step down on 31 August 2020.

Given the fact that WTO has never had a woman, it is the right time for member states to consider women candidates to bring in a fresh air to this multilateral trading system watch-dog. The good news is they have the qualifications to do it.

Out of the three-woman candidates, today we are going to assess the South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee who has experience in negotiating high profile trade pacts between her country and various trading blocs.

Yoo Myung-hee believe if she will win, her country will be able to serve as a bridge between global trading hemispheres based on Korea’s growth experience through trade.

“The international community is increasingly becoming more protectionist…in order for the WTO overcome the current crisis, the role of the middle power (new boss) to mediate conflicts among member states is important,” said Yoo in June

Yoo, 53 years old, is known for outstanding negotiation and mediation skills to build consensus whereby she led her country successfully conclude multiple bilateral Multilateral Free Trade Areas (FTAs) with major economic powers including the US, China, European Union and ASEAN.

If elected, Yoo is expected to successfully reform the WTO and transparently and reasonably coordinate the conflict of interest between US and China and between developing and developed nations in an ‘’unbiased” manner.

In South Korea, Yoo is highly regarded as a person who has greatly contributed in growing the country into advanced country from developing one through her 25 year-career in public service. Korea is a good example of countries that have economically advanced because of trade.

Her vision is also to contribute to the economic growth of developing countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific by sharing experience of how Korea has achieved the rapid and rigid economic development within few decades.

Yoo will prioritize being an impartial leader of International trade to represent all member countries at WTO, not just Korea.

According to the General Council Chair David Walker of New Zealand the appointment process for the next Director-General formally commenced on 8th June 2020 with nominations accepted from that date until 8 July 2020.

At the end of the nomination period, eight candidates had been nominated by their respective governments. From 15 to 17 July, all of the candidates met with WTO members at a special General Council meeting, at which they had the opportunity to present their views and take questions from the membership.

The second phase of the process in which the candidates “make themselves known to members” will end on 7 September. On that date, the third phase will begin.

Ambassador Walker, together with the Chair of the Dispute Settlement Body (Dacio Castillo of Honduras) and the Chair of the Trade Policy Review Body (Harald Aspelund of Iceland), will start to consult with all WTO members to assess their preferences and seek to determine which candidate is best placed to attract consensus support.

Amb. Walker announced on 31 July that the first round of consultations will take place between 7 and 16 September. This will be followed by two more rounds, during which the number of candidates would be reduced from eight to five and down to two for the final round.

Delegations will be asked to provide a maximum of four preferences in the first round and a maximum of two preferences in the second round. At the end of each round of the Phase three consultations, Amb. Walker and the facilitators will report the outcomes to members at meetings of heads of delegations.

Other male candidates are Mr Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt), Dr Jesús Seade Kuri (Mexico), Dr Liam Fox (UK), Mr Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova) and Mr Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri (Saudi Arabia) to succeed the current Director-General, Mr Roberto Azevêdo, who has announced he will step down on 31 August 2020.


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