World Trade Organization (WTO) is currently staging a contest to replace their out going Director General, at a time when the institution is going through a deep identity crisis.
The current Director General, Ricardo Azevedo from Brazil, revealed that he will leave the WTO on August 31, one year before his mandate was due to expire. Saying that it would be good for the organization to have a new and different leader that with proffer new ideas that will help in tackling the post effect realties of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The eight candidates that are vying for the position of Director General of the association are individuals who are proficiently experienced in different fields of knowledge and institutions. They are:
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala
Dr. Iweala, 65, hails from Nigeria and she is a member of the Boards of Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), and the African Risk Capacity (ARC); the Nigeria’s candidate is a global finance expert, who has served as the country’s finance minister on two occasions. In 2014, she made Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Dr. Jesus Seade Kuri
The oldest contender, 73 years old, happens to be an economist who has been working for the Mexican foreign affairs ministry since 2018, Kuri was the country’s chief negotiator for the United States, Mexico and Canada Trade Agreement, known as USMCA.
The youngest nominee, 37 years old, served as Moldova’s minister of foreign affairs between 2018 and 2019, and has been a diplomat for 15 years. He is also a chairman of balance of payments committee of WTO.
Amina Mohamed Jibril
Amina Mohamed, 58, from Kenya, served as the country’s foreign affairs and international trade minister between 2013 and 2018. In this role, she chaired the 2015 WTO ministerial conference in Nairobi the first African to lead the highest WTO forum. She ran for the office of Director General in 2013.
Liam Fox, 58, is a former United Kingdom secretary of state for international trade and currently a lawmaker at the U.K. Parliament. He supports updating and reforming the WTO, while occupying various positions in international trade, defence and ministry.
Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri
From Saudi Arabia and is currently a minister advising the royal court on international and local economic strategic matters in Saudi Arabia. Prior to becoming a minister, 60-year-old Mohammad worked in banking from Saudi Arabia, the head of risk management, and also in charge of managing balance sheet mismatches and liquidity at Saudi British Bank (SABB).
Miss Yoo Myung-Hee
Myung-hee, 53, is the minister for trade for Korea. She was the first female to have the job and has held different positions that cover the same area. Back in 1995, she was in charge of WTO affairs at the Korean trade ministry.
Mamdouh, a 68-year-old Egyptian, has been working as a consultant since 2017, but had previously worked at the WTO. He was the then director of the trade in services and investment division of the institution between 2001 and 2017. He also played a key role in trade policy and diplomacy for the Multilateral Trade System (MTS).
What was surprising is that in mid-May, the outgoing chairman Azevedo 62, made an announcement that he would terminate his second four-year term early for reasons known only to him This decision, forced the Geneva-based WTO’s 164 member states to come up with a successor that would replace him in a three months period, instead of the usual nine.
While the world seeks to recover from the shared challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of free and fair trade has never been more paramount, which is why the current British Prime Minister Boris Johnson lamented in his letter to the WTO, nominating Fox, saying that the former defense minister, could implement the necessary reforms to ensure the global trading system truly delivers for all members of WTO.
Johnson stated that the new chief must revive in a skilled manner impending trade talks, as well as lay the ground for the 2021 ministerial conference, which is one of WTO’s major events.
Meanwhile, the United States of America is threatening to withdraw from the WTO, and has proved their seriousness, by blocking the organization’s dispute settlement appeal system since December. They also want China to be moved up from the developing economies category.
Rather than conducting elections, the selection procedure however relies on finding consensus, with involves the elimination of candidates in turn. WTO currently faces a rising tension between the United States and China, and if the process charades with too much political interests, things could go real bad for WTO.
If they fail on reaching a consensus is in time, one of the four deputy directors-general will take the reins in September on a caretaker basis.
Furthermore, the Chair will inform WTO members of their nominations as soon as they are received. Once the nomination period closes, candidates will be invited to meet with members at a special General Council meeting from in mid July. During the meeting, members will have the opportunity of acquainting with themselves, present their views, while taking questions from the membership.
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