The US has turned down the top candidate for leading the World Trade Organization, defied the other 160 member states of the body and left the outcome of the race uncertain.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former Nigerian finance minister, has found more support to become the next director general than her rival, South Korean Yoo Myung-hee, the WTO said on Wednesday. But the US has refused to support them, delaying the decision on the process until after next week's US presidential election.
The process requires that all WTO members reach consensus instead of going through a formal vote. Candidates from Egypt, Great Britain, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Moldova and Kenya have been eliminated in previous rounds.
Over the past few days, three leading WTO ambassadors, nicknamed the "Troika", have held private consultations among members of the Geneva-based organization to determine which of the two remaining candidates has the greatest support.
Ms. Okonjo-Iweala, who holds both US and Nigerian citizenship, highlighted her experience as executive director of the World Bank and her role as chairman of Gavi, a public-private alliance developing vaccines for low-income countries. The drive to develop a Covid vaccine has sparked a debate about patents protected by WTO agreements.
Keith Rockwell, a WTO spokesman, said US delegates supported Ms. Yoo because of her 25 years of trading experience. She is currently South Korea's Minister of Commerce. "[They said] she would be able to start the race," said Mr. Rockwell. "You said you could use Dr. Do not support Ngozi. I don't know why. "
The WTO members will meet on November 9th.
The role became available due to the unexpected early resignation of Roberto Azevêdo, a Brazilian who had held the job since 2013. He had another year in office but resigned in September.
The organization does not currently have an interim director general after China vetoed a US proposal that the American Alan Wolff, one of the deputy general directors, should take over the role of actor.
The new director general will take power at a time when the WTO's ability to promote rules-based trade has been undermined by geopolitical tensions, including China's model of capitalism and US President Donald Trump's propensity to take unilateral action against address perceived diseases. Treatment of US companies.
You will also face a turbulent economic landscape as the coronavirus pandemic increasingly damages global growth.
Additional reporting from Jim Brunsden in Brussels