Korean, Indonesian candidates out of race for WTO chief

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea and Indonesia confirmed on Friday their candidates to head the World Trade Organisation had failed to make it to the final round, saying the mood had been for a Latin American nominee.

Former South Korean trade minister Bark Tae-Ho "unfortunately failed to make it to the third round", the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Indonesia's former trade minister Mari Pangestu had also failed to get through as "there was more support for the candidates from Mexico and Brazil", said Indonesian presidential aide Firmanzah.

The South Korean statement cited unconfirmed reports that Brazil's WTO ambassador Roberto Azevedo and Mexico's Herminio Blanco, a former senior trade negotiator, would fight it out in a final head-to-head.

The foreign ministry said Bark's candidacy had received considerable support, but was hampered by a desire for "checks and balances" given that a number of South Koreans currently hold key global posts, including UN chief.

"There was also an atmosphere in favour of the Latin American region that has never produced a WTO Secretary General," the statement said.

Mr Firmanzah, an aide on economic affairs, added that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono "wants to express his appreciation and respect for the WTO process".

There was no immediate comment from the other candidate who failed to get through, New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser.