WTO to be led by a woman for first time; markets up - GulfToday

WTO to be led by a woman for first time; markets up


A World Trade Organization (WTO) logo is pictured on their headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. File/Reuters

The World Trade organisation (WTO)  announced on Thursday that South Korea’s trade minister and a Harvard-trained former Nigerian finance minister have qualified as the two finalists to become the next director-general, ensuring a woman in the top job for the first time.

A selection committee said that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea qualified for the final round in a race expected to end in the coming weeks. They were picked out of a pool of five candidates.

“Both of the women that are in the final round are remarkably well qualified. This is something on which everyone has agreed,” WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell told reporters. “We’ve been impressed with them from the very beginning.” The Geneva-based WTO’s General Council, made up of envoys from the 164-member body, eliminated Amina Mohamed, a former trade minister from Kenya; Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri, a Saudi former economy minister, and British former International Trade Secretary and Brexit proponent Liam Fox.

“Deeply grateful and honored to be selected for the final round in the selection process of the next @WTO Director General!” tweeted Yoo, who has a law degree from Vanderbilt University. “We need a capable & experienced new leader who can rebuild trust and restore relevance of the @WTO. I look forward to your continued support! Thank you!!!” 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 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.

The WTO, which was created in 1995 out of the former General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, has never had a woman director-general or national from Africa as its leader.

STOCKS UP ON STIMULUS HOPE: US and world stocks advanced and crude prices gained ground on Thursday in anticipation of further progress in stimulus negotiations.

Reports that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House could hammer out a $25-billion rescue package for commercial airlines boosted that sector and fueled hopes that broader pandemic relief could be forthcoming, if only incrementally.

This sentiment was echoed by President Donald Trump, who urged Congress to pass money for airlines, small businesses, and relief checks for individuals after abruptly calling off negotiations. The US Labor Department reported jobless claims, while edging lower last week, remain stubbornly high and well above the highest numbers at the nadir of the Great Recession.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 100.78 points, or 0.36%, to 28,404.24, the S&P 500 gained 21.45 points, or 0.63%, to 3,440.9 and the Nasdaq Composite added 58.15 points, or 0.51%, to 11,422.75.

European stocks joined the world rally in anticipation of movement in coronavirus aid negotiations.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.99% and MSCI’s gauge of STOCKs across the globe gained 0.71%.

Emerging market STOCKs rose 0.78%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.78% higher, while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.96%.

Crude prices topped $43 per barrel as output shutdowns related hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and an ongoing oil worker strike in Norway pressured supply.

US crude rose 2.08% to $40.78 per barrel and Brent was last at $42.84 per barrel, up 2.02% on the day.

Treasury prices firmed and the yield curve flatted a bit amid persistent pandemic relief uncertainties and weaker-than-expected economic data.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 5/32 in price to yield 0.7685%, from 0.785% late on Wednesday.

The 30-year bond last rose 17/32 in price to yield 1.5656%, from 1.589% late on Wednesday.Market optimism also lifted gold. Spot gold added 0.1% to $1,888.96 an ounce.

The dollar edged higher against a basket of world currencies as investors awaited further news on stimulus talks.

The dollar index rose 0.05%, with the euro down 0.07% to $1.1752.


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