A woman could lead the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for the first time, after South Korea’s Yoo Myung Hee and Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala emerged as the two most promising candidates.
Yoo is South Korea’s Trade Minister, while Okonjo-Iweala is a development economist.
The two women remain the final hopefuls after the 164 member countries narrowed the candidate field from five to two on Thursday.
The trade body in Geneva is looking for a new director general as it faces its deepest crisis in its 25-year history.
Free trade rules are being challenged as the U.S wrangles with China and the European Union.
In addition, Washington has thrown up roadblocks to the WTO’s trade dispute mechanism.
Okonjo-Iweala had been seen as one of the most promising candidates from the start.
She has served as Nigerian finance minister, and has had a 25-year career at the World Bank.
Okonjo-Iweala currently chairs the Gavi vaccine alliance, a public-private initiative that has helped to immunise hundreds of millions of children across the world.
Yoo has been involved in multilateral trade issues since 1995, when she took charge of WTO affairs in Seoul’s Trade Ministry.
Her experience includes negotiations with some of the biggest players in global trade, including the United States, China and the European Union.
Former British trade secretary Liam Fox, former Saudi economy minister Mohammad Maziad al-Tuwaijri and Kenya’s former WTO envoy, Amina Mohamed, were eliminated from the race due to a lack of support.
WTO members will now try to find consensus for either Okonjo-Iweala or Yoo.(dpa/NAN)