The World Trade Organization (WTO) members have selected Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee, as candidates that would advance to the final round towards emerging the Director General of the body.
By advancing two women to the final round of the selection process, the WTO will likely have the first female director general in its 25-year history, according to Bloomberg.
Okonjo-Iweala served two stints as finance minister and a term as foreign affairs minister. She has experience working at international governance bodies as a former managing director of the World Bank and as a chairman at the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.
Yoo is South Korea’s trade minister. During her 25-year career in government, she has helped expand her country’s trade network through bilateral accords with the U.S., China and the U.K.
WTO General Council Chairman David Walker plans to formally announce the results to the institution’s delegates on Thursday morning in Geneva.
“They’re both very well qualified, it’s going to be a fight,” said William Reinsch, a trade official in the Clinton administration and senior adviser at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
He said the top challenge will be “restoring the organization to full strength and viability, and restoring its reputation.
“You need members to have confidence that the WTO is capable of solving problems. I think right now that confidence is eroded.”
The United Kingdom’s Liam Fox, Kenya’s Amina Jibril, and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri did not secure enough support in the second round of consultations, according to sources.
The third and final phase of the consultation process will begin later this month and run until Nov. 6, after which the WTO will name a consensus winner.