Thursday, July 7, 2022


Okonjo-Iweala vs Myung-hee: Who will be the next WTO DG?

Okonjo-Iweala vs Myung-hee: Who will be the next WTO DG?
October 08
16:13 2020

The final shortlist for the office of the director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has been released by the trade body.

Of all the eight candidates who started the race — three from Africa, two from Europe, one from the Middle-East, one from North America, and one from Asia — there are only two candidates left.

In the race were three women — Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Amina Mohammed and Yoo Myung-hee — and four men. If any of the women were to win, she would become the first female WTO DG since the organisation was set up 25 years ago.

Two of those women are the last ones standing. They are Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Yoo Myung-hee.


Okonjo-Iweala, according to the IMF, has a reputation for no-nonsense straight talk and tough action. This is why she won the nickname Okonjo-Wahala, or “Trouble Woman,” from both critics and legislators in Nigeria.

Mhung-Hee on the other hand is regarded as the devil’s advocate in her country, for her aggressive trade negotiations. She has not directly led any global organisation in a senior position, but she’s coordinated trade deals with China and the United States — the biggest players in the WTO.

Both women are said to be great for the job. But the organisation has to choose only one leader.


The world is curious, global trade awaits the next captain of the WTO. But who will this woman be? Whoever it is, a lot of records will be set, the first African to lead the organisation or the first Asian to direct its affairs?

Here is how both candidates stand — ahead of the announcement of the eventual winner in the coming weeks.

Yoo Myung-hee

Country Korea
Age 53
Occupation Lawyer, politician
Current job Minister of trade
Education Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University Law School, and masters in public policy from Seoul National University
Previous international jobs None
Previous local jobs Presidential spokesperson; deputy minister for FTA negotiation; First Secretary (2007-2008) and then Counsellor (2009-2010), Korean Embassy in China; Director-General for Bureau of Trade Policy
Current international jobs None
Awards N/A
Selling point Experience negotiating trade at the highest level of governance in and out of the WTO
WTO experience None
Quotable quote “South Korea can become a bridge, connecting developing countries and advanced countries”
Quick fact She is regarded as the “devil’s advocate” in Korea, due to her aggressive trade negotiations, and she is the first woman to become minister of trade in Korea — after 70 years of male domination.



Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Country Nigeria
Age 65
Occupation Development economist, diplomat
Current job Chair, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
Education Bachelor’s in economics from Harvard University and PhD in regional economics and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Honourary degrees from over a dozen universities worldwide.
Previous international jobs MD of the World Bank; co-chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation; UN Secretary General’s high-level panel on the post-2015 development agenda
Previous local Jobs Two-time minister of finance in Nigeria; minister of foreign affairs. The first female to take up both jobs.
Current International Jobs Board member at Twitter, Standard Chartered Bank, and African Risk Capacity; co-Chair of the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate; member Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) international advisory board; IMF external advisory board; AU special envoy.
Awards Global Finance Minister of the Year 2005 by Euromoney; Top 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2014 by TIME Magazine, 2014; Top 100 Global Thinkers 2011, 2012 by Foreign Policy; the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World by Forbes Magazine 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014; National honours from Nigeria, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire.
Selling point Experience at the highest level of the World Bank, and easily one of Africa’s most trusted technocrats
WTO Experience None
Quotable quote “The best way to help Africans today is to help them to stand on their own feet. And the best way to do that is by helping create jobs.”
Quick fact Kidnapper who held her mother captive requested her resignation as minister of finance for her role in seeking transparency with fuel subsidy payment in Nigeria. She refused.








1 Comment

  1. George760
    George760 October 08, 19:24

    I will love to see Dr.NOiweala as the head of WTO…she has the technical no all to pilot the affairs….

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