Friday, September 18, 2020

WTO retains Okonjo-Iweala, drops three candidates


        Former Minister of Finance, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

World Trade Organization dropped three candidates from the race to be the next Director- General of the body .

It also plans to reduce the contestants to two final candidates in the coming weeks.

Nigeria ’ s Ngozi Okonjo -Iweala still remained in the race , according to Bloomberg on Friday.

Okonjo -Iweala is a former finance minister in Nigeria and former Managing Director of the World Bank.

The Geneva - based WTO said 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 .

“ Their expertise and high professional and personal qualities are highly valued and respected by all members , ” WTO General Council Chairman , David Walker , said in a statement on Friday.

The second phase of consultations would begin on September 24 and run until October 6 after which the WTO would announce two final candidates .

The goal was to name a new leader by November 7.

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 remaining contenders were all current or former ministers, something that trade officials had previously said was an important characteristic for a future Director -General .

They are Mohammad Maziad Al -Tuwaijri , Saudi Arabia’ s former minister of economy and planning; Liam Fox , the UK’ s former secretary of state for international trade ; Yoo Myung - hee, South Korea’ s trade minister ; Ngozi Okonjo -Iweala ; and Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril , Kenya ’ s former international trade minister .

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

The vacancy offered an opportunity for the US, the European Union, and other nations to reshape the organisation , whose mission of economic integration was under threat from protectionist policies around the globe.

Without reform , it risked being sidelined during the biggest economic crisis in a century.

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