Trade Minister Tim Groser says his bid to become the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation is no longer "a long shot".
From the original nine candidates, Mr Groser has made it through the next round of five candidates.
Over the next few weeks, they will be reduced to a shortlist of two.
"What we thought was a very long shot I don't think you could describe as a very long shot any longer," he told the Herald.
Mr Groser is a former trade ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), based in Geneva.
He is competing with candidates from Indonesia (Mari Pangestu), South Korea (Taeho Bark), Mexico (Herminio Blanco) and Brazil (Roberto Azevedo).
He said he needed strong support from developed and developing countries to survive this far.
"Given that three out of four members in the WTO, 120 out of 159, are a developing country, I needed to get strong support from developing countries to survive politically.
"I'm hoping that our developing country friends will reflect on this and come to the conclusion that the most important thing for the WTO is to have someone who can do the job, because at the end of the day you are not electing a country to lead the WTO, you're electing a person."
The fact a New Zealander has previously held the job (Mike Moore from 1999-2002) may be an obstacle, he said, but the real issue was whether a candidate had the networks, experience and intellectual and physical capacity.
A decision is due by May 31 and the winner will take over from Pascal Lamy on September 1.
The candidates that dropped out were Amina Mohamed of Kenya, Alan Kyerematen of Ghana, Anabel Gonzalez of Costa Rica and Ahmed Hindawi of Jordan.