The race for who becomes the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation enters a new phase this week as eight candidates from four continents appear before WTO members to share their visions.
Following the nomination stage which closed on July 8, the five male and three female candidates will, from July 15 to 17, present themselves to members of the 164 States that comprise the WTO.
Interestingly, Nigeria, one of the founding members of the international trade negotiation and dispute settlement body established on January 1, 1995, is also fielding its former finance and foreign affairs minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as a replacement for the incumbent DG, Roberto Azevêdo, who steps down on August 31, 2020.
Other candidates are Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt), Amina Mohamed (Kenya), Jesús Kuri (Mexico), Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova), Yoo Myung-hee (Korea), Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri (Saudi Arabia), and Liam Fox (UK).
Nigeria’s candidate and ex-director of World Bank will on Wednesday afternoon by 15:00hrs meet with WTO members to share her vision for the organisation. During the meeting, members will also have the opportunity to ask her questions and generally evaluate her suitability for the job.
Okonjo Iweala’s spokesperson, Paul Nwabuikwu, told The PUNCH that the Harvard graduate has been “incredibly busy preparing for the meeting”.
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 fancies its chances this time, even though there is no regional rotation principle at the global trade body.
Though no female or African has occupied the seat since the inception of the organisation, Okonjo-Iweala hopes to break that record.