8 January 2013

Africa: Kenyan Woman Vies for WTO Top Job

Nine candidates, one of them a Kenyan ambassador, have been nominated for the post of World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General.

The candidates nominated by their respective governments, include three women and six men. They will vie for the post to succeed the current Director-General, Pascal Lamy, whose term of office expires on August 31, 2013. Lamy has been in office since 2005. In line with WTO procedures for the appointment of the Director-General, the nomination period closed on December 31, 2012.

A formal General Council meeting will be held on January 29, 2013 where candidates will present themselves to the membership. The selection process will conclude with a decision by the General Council no later than May 31, 2013. A statement from WTO secretariat sent to The Observer, said the race kicked off on December 17, 2012 when Ghana nominated its former trade minister Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen. Kenya has since suggested that its WTO ambassador Amina Mohamed be given the job.

Mexico has nominated Herminio Blanco Mendoza, an economist and former minister who led the country's negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mendoza also led Mexico's participation in the Uruguay round of talks that preceded the creation of the WTO in 1995. Costa Rica proposes that its foreign trade minister, Anabel Gonzalez, is the best candidate for the job. South Korea and New Zealand have also nominated their trade ministers, Taeho Bark and Tim Groser, respectively.

From Jordan, former minister Ahmad Nindawi's name has been put forward, while Indonesia is going with Mari Pangestu, the current tourism minister and also a former trade minister. The last candidate to be nominated was Roberto Azevedo, Brazil's envoy to the WTO. He has been with the world's trade oversight body since 2008.

The trade body will select a candidate by May 31, 2013 ahead of the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference, which will take place in Bali, Indonesia from December 3-6, 2013.

The Ministerial Conference is the topmost decision-making body of the WTO, which usually meets every two years. It brings together WTO members, all of which are countries or customs unions. The Ministerial Conference can take decisions on all matters under any of the multilateral trade agreements.

WTO deals with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.

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