World Trade Organisation Chief: Candidates to Know Fates Next Week

The five candidates who are still in the race to become the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will know their fate next week.

Three candidates including Mexico’s Jesus Seade, Egypt’s Hamid Mamdouh, and Moldova’s Tudor Ulianovschi were dropped last month as the Geneva-based organisation said they didn’t secure enough support in a first of three rounds of voting.

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Kenya’s Amina Mohamed, Britain’s Liam Fox, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee are still in the race.

Next week, the remaining pool of five striving to replace Roberto Azevedo, will be whittled down again, with just two remaining after a second elimination round. Azevedo stepped down as the WTO director-general last month a year ahead of schedule,

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It remains unclear whether the WTO members will ultimately agree on another leader from Europe, or pick an African or Asian. There is no requirement for a regional rotation of the WTO chief position.

But there have been growing calls for an African to finally get a shot at running the organisation, which has counted 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 politicisation of the WTO, which relies on consensus to reach decisions, could impact the process and the final choice.

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Whoever gets the job in the end will be taking over an organisation swamped in multiple crises, and struggling to help members navigate a severe global economic slump triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and an almost four-year war between China and the U.S.

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