South Korea nominates trade minister for top WTO job

December 29, 2012 - 4:41:14 am


GENEVA:  South Korea nominated Taeho Bark, its trade minister, to lead the World Trade Organisation yesterday, making him the eighth candidate to be put forward for the top job.

Bark’s candidacy was submitted three days before nominations close and as Pascal Lamy, the global trade body’s current director general, prepares to step down on August 31, 2013.

Although Lamy has said his successor should be chosen on the basis of competence alone, some trade diplomats say it is the turn of a developing country to hold the job.

Bark is the second candidate from a rich country and the third from the Asia-Pacific to apply. 

So far, all but one of the candidates are serving or former trade ministers and several, like Bark, have US doctoral degrees in economics and strong academic credentials.

Apart from South Korea, countries that have nominated candidates include Mexico, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Ghana, Jordan, Kenya and New Zealand. More could be put forward before the deadline of midnight on December 31.

The candidates will present their case for becoming the sixth head of the WTO at a meeting at its Geneva headquarters on January 29, part of a three-month campaigning period after which the field will be gradually whittled down. 

The candidate with the least support among the WTO’s 157 members will be asked to withdraw until a winner emerges, something expected to happen by the end of May.