Race for WTO DG thickens as Okonjo-Iweala, others know fate

October 2, 2020
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The five remaining candidates, including Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, still in the race for the job of Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are expected to know their fate next week as they would be further pruned down to two after the second round of elimination.

The remaining four candidates are Liam Fox (UK), Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril (Kenya), Yoo Myung-hee (South Korea), and Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri (Saudi Arabia).

Recall that the candidates started off as eight contestants, and three were initially eliminated. The candidates that were eliminated include Jesus Seade (Mexico), Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova), and Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt).

The candidates were said not to be able to secure the support needed for the first round of 3 rounds of voting. The remaining five candidates are in the race to replace Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down as the WTO Director-General last month a year ahead of schedule.

It remains quite unclear whether the WTO members will ultimately agree on another leader from Europe. There is no requirement for a regional rotation of the WTO chief position.

But there have been calls for an African to finally get a shot at running the organization, which has been led by three Director-Generals from Europe, and one each from Oceania, Asia and South America since its creation in 1995.

The WTO aims to select a winner in November, but some have voiced fear that increasing politicization of the WTO, which relies on consensus to reach decisions, could draw out the process.

This is however, compounded by the trade conflict between the United States and China, the two largest economies in the world, who have divergent interests.

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