The United States has thrown its support behind South Korea’s candidate in the two-person race for the top job at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung Hee “has all the skills necessary to be an effective leader of the organisation,” the Office of the US Trade Representative said in a statement on Wednesday.
It comes as EU states on Monday reached a consensus on supporting the other candidate left in the running, Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, according to dpa sources.
US President Donald Trump has been critical of the WTO. On Wednesday, the US said the organization is in urgent need of reform, so someone with practical experience in trade matters is needed for the top job.
Okonjo-Iweala has served as Nigerian finance minister, and has had a 25-year career at the World Bank.
Yee has been involved in multilateral trade issues since 1995, when she took charge of WTO affairs in Seoul’s Trade Ministry.
A decision on the role is expected soon.
Whoever ultimately prevails will become the first woman to lead the Geneva-based trade body in its 25-year history.
After a meeting on Wednesday, WTO spokesperson Keith Rockwell said consultations on the way forward will start immediately, according to the organization’s official Twitter account.
“The candidate that had the best chance of attaining a consensus of the membership is Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria,” the tweet said.
Roberto Azevedo, the former WTO director general, resigned from his post at the end of August for family reasons after seven years in the job.