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South Korea's first female trade minister bids for WTO top job

FILE PHOTO: World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's trade minister Yoo Myung-hee on Wednesday announced her bid to become the next director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), aiming to be the first female leader at the WTO.

The nominations process began earlier this month to find a successor to Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who will vacate the post a year early at the end of August.

"The international community is increasingly becoming more protectionist...in order for the WTO to overcome the current crisis, the role of a middle power to mediate conflicts among member states is important," Yoo said in a statement ahead of a press conference.

"Korea will be able to serve as a bridge, based on its growth experience through trade."

Yoo is the first woman to hold the position of South Korea's trade minister since it was created in 1948, and if selected, would be the first female WTO director-general.

Yoo, 53, led South Korea's renegotiation of a trade deal with the United States and worked on South Korea's trade pacts with Singapore and ASEAN.

Earlier this month, South Korea resumed a WTO dispute process with Japan over export curbs on some high-tech materials, saying talks to resolve the dispute, born out of a deterioration in bilateral relations last year, had failed to make progress.

South Korea relies much on foreign trade, with exports and imports taking up 63.7% of its 2019 nominal GDP, according to Korea International Trade Association data.


(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Michael Perry)