Eight contenders run for top job at WTO; S. Korea's trade minister also in race
Updated: 2020-07-09 07:59:49 KST
The campaign to lead the World Trade Organization during the most stormy era of its 25-year existence has begun.
From dealing with the global economic recession caused by COVID-19 to tackling the U.S.-China trade war, the next director-general has a lot on their plate.
And South Korea's trade minister Yoo Myung-hee is running for the top job.
She has vowed to improve the agency's processes and re-establish its position of resisting global protectionism.
"With all my experience and competency, I pledge to resolve the difficulties that WTO members are facing and open a new future for the agency."
Starting her public service career back in 1992, Yoo is a renowned trade negotiator with 25 years of experience.
She also is the third South Korean to run for the post.
She will be competing against seven other contenders from the UK, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria, Moldova and Mexico.
If Minister Yoo does win, she'll be the WTO's first female leader.
The previous heads of the WTO and its predecessor, the General Agreement on Trades and Tariffs, have typically come from European countries like France and Switzerland.
The Washington Post has noted that there is a strong push among Geneva trade delegates to select a woman to lead the agency for the first time.
Experts say the chances of Yoo Myung-hee winning are 50/50.
"As almost the only country in the world that has grown so much through trade, South Korea has a lot to share and offer to other developing countries. And Korea will also have more opportunities to speak out and improve systems including those related to trade conflicts."
Japan claimed earlier on Tuesday that it would try to prevent Yoo from winning.
Despite Japan's pressure, experts note Tokyo's influence will be limited considering its lack of standing in the WTO.
As the current director-general will be stepping down at the end of August, the WTO plans to shorten the 9 month-long selection process.
During that process, the candidates will present themselves to the WTO's membership, campaign for support and sit for a Q&A session with the WTO General Council.
The General Council will then narrow the field of candidates until they reach a consensus around a single contender.
Park Se-young, Arirang News.