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Most EU Members Have Backed Okonjo-Iweala For WTO DG – Diplomats

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Most EU capitals back former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to lead the World Trade Organisation, sources said Monday, but she has yet to receive unanimous backing.

The 66-year was her country’s first woman to hold the finance portfolio, between 2011 and 2015, and also has a long career as a development economist at the World Bank.

The EU had already decided to back either Okonjo-Iweala or South Korea’s trade minister Yoo Myung-hee, and officials from the member states met Monday to seek a consensus.

Most of the 27 governments backed Okonjo-Iweala, around ten preferred Yoo but agreed to follow the majority view and only two remained opposed, a European source told AFP.

European backing would be a considerable boost for the candidacy of the Nigerian economist, who already said she felt “the wind at my back” when she was backed by the African Union.

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If successful, she would the WTO’s first African leader.

But it was not clear if Brussels will be able to send an unanimous signal of support before the end of consultations on Tuesday. The appointment will be announced in early November.

The envoy’s meeting was to resume at 1700 GMT to see if the two hold outs, which AFP understands to be Hungary and one of the three Baltic states, will come on board with the choice.

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