Nigeria: WTO - Okonjo-Iweala, Four Others to Emerge Final Candidates

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chairperson of the African Risk Capacity Agency Governing Board, at the AfDB Annual Meetings in Busan, South Korea, May 2018.
18 September 2020

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is set to announce on Friday the departure of three candidates in the race for the position of the Director General of the global trade body, thereby narrowing the number of contestants to five.

According to Bloomberg, the troika of three top WTO officials in Geneva is expected to announce today that Mexico's Jesus Seade, Egypt's Hamid Mamdouh and Moldova's Tudor Ulianovschi didn't secure enough support in a first of three rounds of voting, according to the people, who weren't authorised to speak publicly.

The remaining contenders are all current or former ministers, something that trade officials had previously said was an important characteristic for a future director general. They are: Nigeria's former Finance Minister and former Managing Director of the World Bank, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Saudi Arabia's former Minister of Economy and Planning, Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri; U.K.'s former Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox; South Korea's Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee; and Kenya's former International Trade Minister, Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril.

The Geneva-based WTO, which has a meeting of members set for today to share the news, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. The result was reported earlier by Politico, the news platform stated.

Following today's expected announcement, five of the eight candidates will proceed to the second round.

The vacancy arose when Brazilian Director-General Roberto Azevedo decided to step down at the end of August, a year before his term was due to end.

The campaign to lead the WTO during the most turbulent period of its 25-year existence is playing out against the backdrop of the pandemic, a worldwide recession, the U.S.-China battle for trade supremacy and the American presidential election.

The vacancy offers an opportunity for the United States, the European Union and other nations to reshape the organisation, whose mission of economic integration is under threat from protectionist policies around the globe. Without reform, it risks being sidelined during the biggest economic crisis in a century.

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