The Geneva-based organization said in a statement on Thursday that the field for candidates vying for the next WTO director-general position later this year has been curtailed to Nigosi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Yu Myung-Hee in South Korea.
The World Trade Organization was established in 1995 with the aim of promoting open trade for the benefit of all. It negotiates and administers international trade rules and attempts to resolve disputes between its 164 members.
“I am delighted to be in the final round of WTO [director general] I tweeted on Thursday. “Thank you members of the World Trade Organization for your continued support for my candidacy.”
Okonjo will face Iweala Yoo, South Korea’s first female commerce minister.
“Very grateful and honored to be selected for the final round of the selection process for the next Director-General of the World Trade Organization @!” Yu said on Twitter after the finalists were announced.
The next WTO Director-General will take control of the organization that has struggled to prevent trade disputes between member states, most notably the United States and China. It will also have to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, which has ravaged trade and led to a deep global recession.
Much may depend on the outcome of the US presidential election in November.
Yu described the World Trade Organization as “at a crossroads”. And in a video produced as part of her campaign for the director-general position, she said members must now work to rebuild trust and reform the global trade system.
“The world economy is under tremendous pressure. This is precisely why the World Trade Organization is more important than ever,” she said.
“The WTO needs a leader at this time. It needs a new look, a new face, an outsider, someone with the ability to implement reforms and work with members to make sure the WTO comes out of its partial paralysis,” she said in an interview.
Stephanie Bossari contributed to the report.