The World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Thursday South Korea’s trade minister and a Harvard-trained former Nigerian finance minister were in running to become the next director-general of the Geneva-based body, ensuring a woman in the top job for the first time.
WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell announced that a selection committee picked 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.
The General Council made up of envoys from the 164-member body, eliminated Amina Mohamed from Kenya, Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri from Saudi and Liam Fox from Britain.
A previous round cut the list of candidates from eight to five.
The winner is to be announced in November.
Roberto Azevedo of Brazil, the previous WTO director-general made a surprise announcement in May that he would leave the job a year early.
He left without a replacement on August 31.
Azevedo’s tenure was marked by intense pressure from US President Donald Trump, who accused the WTO of unfair treatment of the US and started a trade war with China in the confrontation of the WTO system.
The WTO has never had a woman director-general or a national from Africa as its leader, which was created in 1995 out of the former General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
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