Wednesday, August 05, 2020

South Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee bids to lead WTO

Jun 25. 2020
South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee announces her bid to become the head of the World Trade Organization at Sejong Government Complex, Wednesday. (Yonhap)
South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee announces her bid to become the head of the World Trade Organization at Sejong Government Complex, Wednesday. (Yonhap)
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By Shim Woo-hyun
The Korea Herald/ANN

South Korea‘s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee on Wednesday officially announced her bid to become the next general director of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Yoo, 53, is the third South Korean to run for the top post of the Geneva-based trade body, currently facing challenges over confusions in global trade rules and shaky cooperation among the member countries. If elected, Yoo would be the first Korean to lead the organization.

“South Korea can become a bridge, connecting developing countries and advanced countries,” Yoo said in her announcement. Addressing the crisis looming against the trade body launched in 1995, Yoo added South Korea could help reduce friction between trading nations.

Yoo’s candidacy came while South Korea is involved in a trade dispute with neighboring Japan, started after Japan imposed trade restrictions on South Korea last year.

Yoo, however, dismissed any possibilities that her potential appointment could meddle with the ongoing dispute between the two nations. Yoo stressed that the WTO should not represent interests of a particular nation.

Yoo has been a lifelong bureaucrat who took part in numerous trade deals and negotiations, including an FTA with the US. She was also the first woman to become a first-rank staff in the 70-year history of the trade ministry in 2018.

Yoo also served as the presidential office‘s spokesperson for foreign correspondents.

The WTO has begun the process to pick a new head since early this month as the current director-general, Brazil‘s Roberto Azevedo is set to step down in August -- about a year before his term ends.

Currently, the WTO has received four candidates from Egypt, Mexico, Nigeria and Moldova, according to the ministry.

The WTO will accept nominations until July 8. Candidates will later present their views at a special council meeting, through which the WTO council will arrive at its decision after consultations.

Two South Koreans made unsuccessful bids in 1994 and 2012.

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