Costa Rica's trade minister joins WTO leadership race
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Costa Rica on Tuesday nominated Trade Minister Anabel Gonzalez to run for director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), making her the first Latin American and the second candidate to enter the race.
Frenchman Pascal Lamy, 65, who currently heads the WTO, will step down on Aug. 31, 2013 after eight years in the job.
Gonzalez, 49, who worked at the WTO from 2005 to 2009, has led negotiations for free trade agreements with Colombia, Peru, China and Singapore, and has heavily promoted the creation of high-tech clusters in the country's tax free zones.
"I've developed a career in the public and private sector, both in Costa Rica and internationally, and that has made me understand the current international trade agenda quite well," Gonzalez told a news conference with Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla.
On Monday, Ghana put forward former trade minister Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen for the job, after the African Union backed his candidacy earlier this year.
Applications must be submitted before the end of the year, in time for a three-month campaigning period, with a winner to emerge by May.
Many trade diplomats think the position should go to an African, Latin American or Caribbean candidate, since all but one head of the WTO have come from developed countries.
Nonetheless, there is no official rotation policy.
Chinchilla said Gonzalez, who speaks Spanish and English fluently, as well as some French, was a strong candidate.
"One could say that Anabel has founded an entire school in terms of international trade negotiations not only in Costa Rica, but in our region, and is internationally renowned for her work," Chinchilla told the news conference in San Jose.
Other names being put forward for the role are New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser, Brazil's ambassador to the WTO, Roberto Azevedo, and South African Trade Minister Rob Davies.
(Editing by Gabriel Stargardter and Steve Orlofsky)