The government plans to support a Nigerian nominee, not a South Korean one, for the post of director-general of the World Trade Organization, government sources said Monday.
The move comes against the backdrop of a semiconductor-related trade dispute between Japan and South Korea, in which the South Korean nominee, Yoo Myung-hee, currently the country’s minister for trade, has repeatedly criticized Japan.
With the next WTO chief expected to be selected by early next month, the candidate list has been narrowed down to Yoo and Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, both women.
The Foreign Ministry is encouraging other WTO members to back Okonjo-Iweala, who has served as her country’s finance minister and as World Bank managing director, according to the sources. She is a “superior candidate to Yoo,” one of them said.
With Nigeria receiving significant economic assistance from China, however, some are concerned about China’s possible influence on her.
At a news conference Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said the government “won’t make public” its decision regarding the WTO leadership selection process, citing “diplomatic reasons.”
Kato noted, however, that a desirable candidate should have the abilities to “balance the interests of major WTO member countries and proactively contribute to maintaining and strengthening multilateral trade frameworks.”
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