South Korean WTO candidate out of race, says ministry

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

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

The 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 Mr 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.

There was no immediate comment from some of the other candidates who reportedly failed to make it through, including New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser and Indonesia's former trade minister Mari Pangestu.