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Has South Korean candidate, Yoo Myung-hee, withdrawn from WTO DG race?

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Claim: Media reports and social media users claimed that Minister Yoo Myung-hee has withdrawn from the WTO DG race.

Minister Yoo Myung-hee has not withdrawn from the WTO DG race as the Council is yet to receive her withdrawal notice and officially announce the minister’s withdrawal from the race.

Full Text:

There was a news by an online news website, JUSTNEWSLINE, on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, that “South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee has withdrawn her candidacy from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General’s race, according to Washington Trade Daily”.

According to the online medium, Washington Trade Daily quoted some sources as saying that South Korea has informed America of its decision and is expected to make it public “in the coming days,” adding that “Yoo from Korea failed to receive enough support from members of all levels of development -1e., the developed, developing and least developing countries, as well as geographically in comparison to the “largest” support received by Ms Okonjo-Iweala.”

Latching on this, the international trade news medium also announced on its Twitter handle, @washtradedaily, that, “Korea plans to withdraw Trade Minister Yoo from the race for new WTO DG, paving the way for Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to be the next DG and the first woman and African in the role.”

The source said the Washington-based newspaper added that South Korea has already conveyed its decision to the United States, which had been insisting on the selection of Myung-hee. It also noted that but for the US’ opposition, the WTO’s General Council would’ve named Nigeria’s former coordinating minister for the economy and minister of finance as the director-general in October after she had secured the vote of 163 of the 164 members of the trade organisation.

The WTD, however, gave more insight into the US’ objection to Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy, saying that the Trump administration suspected her of being close to the Democratic Party.

Verification

Findings by Dubawa show that the General Council of the WTO in charge of the selection is yet to be notified of any withdrawal by the aspirant.

Secondly, the DG WTO aspirant is yet to officially announce her exit from the race either on her social media platforms or the South Korea’s. 

Dubawa sent an electronic mail to the WTO, through its enquiry desk to confirm the withdrawal. In response, but WTO’s Director of Information and External Relations Division, Keith Rockwell, replied that “we have not received any indication that Minister Yoo has withdrawn”. 

The WTO noted that the candidate had indicated the contrary in the Korean media as recent as last week, adding that there was a press report that stated she would withdraw but the media outlet has subsequently issued a correction and reported that Seoul has denied that she would be leaving the race.

An electronic mail was sent to the Republic of Korea via its internet, Korea.net but no response yet to be gotten as at the time of filling this fact-check. 

However, on Friday, November 6, 2020, The Korea Herald updated its report that the South Korea’s foreign ministry has denied a news report of Thursday, November 5, 2020, that Seoul’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee will soon drop out of the race for the new director-general at the World Trade Organization.

The Korea Herald noted “the Chosun Ilbo reported earlier in the day that the government had made the decision to have Yoo withdraw her candidacy and that she will be making an official announcement in due course. The ministry on Thursday said that no decision has been made about Yoo or the government’s position”.

It quoted the Ministry as saying: “We are comprehensively reviewing the future course of the candidate or the government’s position on the matter and no decision has been made in any direction. The government, as a member state that respects the regulations and procedure of the WTO, will take part with a constructive attitude in the process for the final consensus for the director-general and will continue to consult on the matter with the United States as well as other member states.”

Dubawa, in October, had debunked many social media and news websites’ posts on WTO DG matters. On October 29, 2020, Dubawa debunked the claim that Dr Okonjo-Iweala had been appointed.

The race to succeed the Brazilian Robert Azevedo as Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), has been a keen contest, which started with an array of eminently qualified contestants from across the world and it has reached the decisive stage when the 164 member states of the organisation begin the process of deciding who between the two remaining contestants, Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Yoo Myung Hee, deserves the position.

But Minister Yoo fell behind her Nigerian rival, Dr Okonjo-Iweala, in the final round of consultations among the 164 member states of the global trade body, even when the US said they supported Minister Yu because of her 25 years of trade experience and that she would be able to hit the ground running.

Conclusion: 

The WTO General Council has disclosed that the Council is yet to be notified of the withdrawal of the contestant from South Korea and she is also yet to officially withdraw from the race.

The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with the Broadcastings Corporation of Oyo State, to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in Journalism and enhance Media Literacy in the Country.

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