U.S. World Bank pick to win broad support: Geithner

Sat Mar 24, 2012 3:05pm EDT
 
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By Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Jim Yong Kim, the U.S. nominee to lead the World Bank, will win broad international support despite an unprecedented challenge by candidates from emerging economies, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in an interview.

Washington's hold on the World Bank presidency is being contested for the first time by candidates from emerging economies. Two respected economists and diplomats, Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo, have been nominated.

Kim, a Korean-American health expert, is well known among development experts for his work in fighting HIV/AIDS and bringing healthcare to the poor. President Barack Obama nominated him for World Bank president on Friday.

"The president was looking for a candidate who could command broad support across the world," Geithner told Reuters in an interview released on Saturday. "That's very important, because we don't make this decision alone."

"Dr. Kim's mix of skills will be particularly compelling to the bank at this time and I think the world will be very impressed with him," he said.

Emerging economies such as China, India, South Africa, Brazil and Russia have sought to use their growing economic clout to pry open the selection process for the heads of the World Bank and its sister organization, the International Monetary Fund.

The World Bank has always been headed by an American and the IMF by a European since their inception after World War Two.

Geithner said it was not a surprise that candidates from other countries had been nominated after a 2009 agreement by leaders of the Group of 20 nations for an open and transparent process to select leaders of the two institutions.   Continued...

 
U.S. President Barack Obama (C) is flanked by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (R) as he introduces Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim (L) as his nominee to be the next president of the World Bank, during an announcement in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, March 23, 2012. The U.S. picked a public health expert of South Korean origin as its candidate for the World Bank presidency, a job emerging market economies are contesting for the first time. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst