The World Trade Organization is due to announce on Thursday the final two candidates from a shortlist of five to lead the agency.
Reports suggest they are both women – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Yoo Myung-he of South Korea.
The WTO has never been led by a woman or an African. The hope is that having an African head the organisation could boost the continent’s trade, which has stagnated at 2% to 3% of the global average.
The successful candidate is expected to be announced next month.
The new director general will have to deal with the US-China trade dispute and increased global protectionism.
President Donald Trump’s administration has also blocked the appointment of judges to the WTO’s main dispute body, badly impairing one of the organisation’s key functions.