- Nigeria's former minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is one of the contenders for WTO DG, who would start their pitches on July 15
- President Muhammadu Buhari has endorsed Okonjo-Iweala for the top job
- The contenders would make 15-minute presentations to the 164 member states’ representatives at the WTO headquarters in Geneva
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A report by Channels TV indicates that the eight candidates battling to become the next head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) would make their pitches before the week runs out, with three days of auditions starting Wednesday, July 15.
Legit.ng gathered that the contenders would make 15-minute presentations to the 164 member states’ representatives at the WTO headquarters in Geneva, before facing a 75-minute grilling over their plans for the global trade body.
The reports said that after a series of eliminations based on consensus, starting in September, the winner would take the WTO wheel in the midst of a global economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
The new leader would also have to sort out simmering trade tensions between the United States and China and revive stalled trade talks.
There are three African candidates, two from Europe, two from Asia and one from the Americas.
Africa’s trio are former Nigerian foreign and finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Egyptian former diplomat, Hamid Mamdouh; and Kenya’s former WTO general council chair, Amina Mohamed.
Britain’s first post-Brexit international trade secretary, Liam Fox and former Moldovan foreign minister Tudor Ulianovschi are the two from Europe.
South Korean trade minister, Yoo Myung-hee and former Saudi economy minister, Mohammed al-Tuwaijri, are running from Asia, while Mexico’s former WTO deputy director-general, Jesus Seade Kuri, was the first to declare his candidacy.
The TV station said Seade, Okonjo-Iweala and then Mamdouh are up first on Wednesday, July 15; Ulianovschi, Yoo and Mohamed take their turn on Thursday, July 16, while Tuwajiri and Fox would go on Friday, July 18.
“The WTO is in a serious crisis,” Seade told the UN correspondents’ association.
He said the body had “very limited results” to show for its 26 years, its dispute settlement system was “in a serious state of disrepair”, while measures taken by countries to control the COVID-19 pandemic “have generated gigantic dislocation of international trade.”
Since the WTO was created in 1995, three of its directors-general were from Europe, while one each came from Oceania, Asia and South America.
"Africa, therefore, fancies its chances, even though there is no regional rotation principle at the global trade body.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that Okonjo-Iweala got a major boost in her bid to emerge as the director-general of the WTO as the minority leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, lent his support for Iweala's candidacy during a plenary on Tuesday, July 14.
It was reported that the House of Reps called on President Muhammadu Buhari to get other African leaders to throw their weight behind Okonjo-Iweala's candidacy.
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