The United States has officially declared its endorsement of France’s finance minister Christine Lagarde to be the next chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), virtually guaranteeing she will becomes its boss when its board meets next week.

I am pleased to announce our decision to support Christine Lagarde to head the International Monetary Fund, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement.

Minister Lagarde's exceptional talent and broad experience will provide invaluable leadership for this indispensable institution at a critical time for the global economy.

With the US and Europe backing her, Lagarde now has 49 percent of the Fund’s 24-member executive board’s voting quotas.

Her only challenger is Mexican bank chief Agustin Carstens.

One month ago US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her country welcomed women who are well qualified to run big institutions like the IMF.

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has already described Lagarde as the outstanding candidate to take over the IMF.

Lagarde also reportedly has the support of China and Russia.

Geithner added: We are encouraged by the broad support she has secured among the Fund's membership, including from the emerging economies. I also want to commend my friend, Agustin Carstens, on his strong and very credible candidacy.

Although some emerging markets countries have complained that the Fund has been run by Europeans for too long, Lagarde’s ascension would still be historic as she would be its first female head.

Moreover, a European chief might soothe concerns of European governments who are grappling with Greece’s mountain of debt; as well as huge bailouts of Portugal and Ireland.

However, Lagarde also has to convince emerging market powers like China, Russia and India that she would not be biased in favor of Europe.

I am not here to represent the interest of any given region of the world, but rather the entire membership, she told the IMF board last week.