Six candidates battle it out for WTO leadership

Marco Green
July 9, 2020

Rather than an election, the selection procedure relies on finding consensus, with candidates gradually being eliminated in turn.

His successor will need to steer reforms and negotiations in the face of rising protectionism, a deep recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and growing trade tensions, notably between the United States and China.

If elected, Amina will become the first African to head the WTO which has been criticized for favoring developed western countries at the expense of developing countries.

The Sports CS will battle it out with Jesús Seade Kuri (Mexico), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria), Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt), Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova) and Yoo Myung-hee (Korea).

If a consensus can not be reached in time, one of the four deputy directors-general will take the reins in September on a caretaker basis.

Of the directors-general since the WTO was created in 1995, three were from Europe, while one each came from Oceania, Asia and South America.

There is broad support for an African candidate and a woman, since neither have headed the Geneva-based body in the past, sources following the process said.

Nevertheless, Okonjo-Iweala "is gaining ground within Africa", a diplomatic source said.

"I'm sure the African Union will make a decision to choose and support the candidate that merits it", she told reporters in Geneva at a virtual press conference in late June.

However, the WTO told TheCable that the former World Bank managing director is eligible to run for the office.

Kenya has launched a new global campaign to have Sport CS Amina Mohamed elected as the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Observers noted her nomination by Kenya to vie for the powerful position was strategic and professionally informed, considering she has previously chaired three key WTO bodies; the Dispute Settlement Body, the Trade Policy Review Body and the General Council during her tenure in Geneva.

She also pointed out that her leadership skills as a pragmatic consensus builder and her global network of associates, partners and friends, stand her in good stead on the job. She threw her hat in the ring just before nominations closed, meaning there are three women and three Africans in the contest.

Yoo, 53, is the other female candidate.

Saudi Arabia nominated former economy minister and longtime banker Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri, while Britain announced the candidacy of forward former International Trade Secretary and Brexit proponent Liam Fox.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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