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Yoo returns home after election campaign for WTO throne

All News 09:18 July 23, 2020

By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, July 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee returned home from Geneva Thursday after campaigning for her bid for the top job of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In Geneva, Yoo held a series of back-to-back meetings with numerous representatives from WTO member states as she pledged to make the world trade body inclusive for all 164 member states, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Yoo has said in a press conference that she would rebuild trust in the multilateral trading system by making it "more relevant, resilient and responsive" amid growing protectionism.

Yoo -- the only incumbent trade minister among candidates -- is competing for the top WTO post with candidates from seven countries -- Mexico, Nigeria, Egypt, Moldova, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and Britain.

South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, who is running to be the next director-general of the World Trade Organization, speaks during a press conference at the WTO headquarters in Geneva on July 16, 2020, after presenting her views on her goals for the trade body. (Yonhap)

The WTO plans to launch the process to pick its new leader on Sept. 7 as current Director-General Roberto Azevedo of Brazil is set to stand down in August, about a year before his term ends.

Yoo has said that she will make efforts to make the WTO's reform suitable to the 21st century, as it has failed to adjust to drastic changes in the world trade climate.

The bid came in the face of numerous challenges, including growing protectionism, rising tension between the United States and China and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The escalating row between South Korea and Japan over trade issues, which have been at loggerheads since July 2019, is also an issue.

South Korea reopened its complaint at the WTO last month as Japan has remained unresponsive to Seoul's repeated requests to lift the regulations.

Last year, Japan abruptly imposed restrictions on exports of key industrial materials to South Korea, which are crucial in the production of chips and displays. The WTO plans to decide later this month whether to set up a panel to look into South Korea's complaint against Japan.

colin@yna.co.kr
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