World Trade Organization to be led by a woman for first time | World

Christel Deskins

Okonjo-Iweala on Twitter thanked WTO members for their support and wrote that she was “happy to be in the final round.” A previous round had cut the list of candidates from eight to five. The winner is expected to be announced no later than early November. The previous WTO director-general, […]

Okonjo-Iweala on Twitter thanked WTO members for their support and wrote that she was “happy to be in the final round.”

A previous round had cut the list of candidates from eight to five. The winner is expected to be announced no later than early November.

The previous WTO director-general, Roberto Azevedo of Brazil, made a surprise announcement in May that he would leave the job a year early, citing a “personal decision.” He left without a successor on Aug. 31.

Azevedo’s seven-year tenure was marked by intense pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump, who repeatedly accused the WTO of “unfair” treatment of the U.S. and started a trade war with China in defiance of the WTO system. In the past, Trump has threatened to pull the United States out of the trade body altogether.

The WTO’s dispute settlement system is perhaps the world’s best-known venue for resolving international trade disputes – such as those pitting plane-makers Boeing and Airbus in recent decades. But the United States has clogged up the dispute settlement machinery by blocking any new members for its highest court, the Appellate Body, which has unable to address new disputes since last year.

The next director-general will face the daunting task of keeping the United States on board if Trump wins a second term, amid Washington’s allegations that China is engaged in unfair practices such as excessively subsidizing industries and stealing intellectual property — notably at the expense of Western businesses hoping to tap the expanding Chinese market. China rejects the allegations.

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