Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has emerged as one of the two candidates the World Trade Organization members selected to advance to the final round in the race to lead the Geneva-based trade body.
To battle it out with Okonjo-Iweala at this final stage is South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee.
The emergence of two women to the final round of the selection process means the WTO will likely have the first female director general in its 25-year history.
Okonjo-Iweala served two stints as Nigeria’s finance minister and one 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.
Bloomberg reports that 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 Center for Strategic and International Studies. 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.”