Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Minister of Finance, has advanced to the final stage of the race to lead the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
She, alongside South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee, emerged from a list of five candidates.
The initial pool of eight candidates to replace Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down as WTO director-general in August – a year ahead of schedule, was narrowed down to five last month.
The three eliminated during the second round of “confessionals” – in which all member states confidentially voice their preferences – were Liam Fox of Britain, Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri of Saudi Arabia, and Amina Mohamed of Kenya.
Jesus Saede Kuri of Mexico, Tudor Ulianovschi of Moldova and Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh of Egypt were cut during the first round.
The WTO will likely have the first female director-general in its 25-year history as no woman has ever headed the global trade body.
Okonjo-Iweala and Yoo’s candidacies received a boost earlier this week when EU member states officially threw their weight behind them.
A third and final round of consultations will begin later this month and is scheduled to run until November 6, when the WTO aims to agree by consensus on the next director-general.
Okonjo-Iweala, 66, served as Nigeria’s first female finance and foreign minister, and has a 25-year career behind her as a development economist at the World Bank, eventually becoming its number two.
She is also on the Twitter board of directors and is a special envoy for the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 fight.
Yoo, 53, is meanwhile currently serving as her country’s first female trade minister, following a career in trade diplomacy and foreign affairs.