Who's bidding to be next World Trade Organization chief?
GENEVA / BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The World Trade Organization (WTO) has started this month to select a new Director General to replace Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who will step down a year earlier in August.
Nominations are open until July 8, and according to WTO documents, four nominations from Egypt, Mexico, Nigeria and Moldova have so far been received.
Azevedo's successor must steer reforms and negotiations in the face of increasing protectionism, a deep recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and growing trade tensions, particularly between the United States and China.
The Geneva-based body normally takes nine months to elect a new boss, but now wants to do it in three months. It prefers to choose a boss by consensus and only go to vote as a last resort.
Below is a summary of possible candidates:
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria), CEO of the Global Vaccine Alliance Gavi
Okonjo-Iweala, 65, is an economist and development specialist who worked as Nigeria's Foreign and Finance Minister and as World Bank director. The work of the former Harvard and MIT student included efforts to make vaccination programs financially sustainable.
The WTO announced its nomination on June 9. A document showed that it has regional support from West Africa. [L8N2DZ3ER]
Abuja had previously assisted another of his nationals, Yonov Frederick Agah, in an African Union trial that was supposed to nominate a single African candidate.
Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt), currently a lawyer based in Geneva
Former Egyptian trade negotiator and former WTO official who helped draft an agreement on trade in services under the landmark Uruguay Round agreement - an experience that gave him key skills in bridge building.
The 67-year-old Mamdouh is currently advising the G20 presidency in Saudi Arabia on trade and investment issues.
The WTO confirmed his candidacy on June 9.
Amina Mohamed, Minister of Sport and Culture (Kenya)
Mohamed, 58, is a former Kenyan ambassador to the WTO who was the first woman to chair the WTO General Council in 2005.
In 2013, she unsuccessfully ran for the post of director general. Her curriculum vitae states that she speaks four languages, has a law degree and is an "excellent strategist and visionary" who advocated broad participation in the WTO reform process.
She did not respond to a request for comment.
Arancha Gonzalez Laya (Spain), Spanish Foreign Minister
As a lawyer, she was chief of staff of the then WTO chief Pascal Lamy between 2005 and 2013. Trade officials say the United States government may be unacceptable given the tense relationship with Washington under Lamy's leadership.
When asked about her possible candidacy, she said that she had a "full plate" with her current job.
Phil Hogan (Ireland), European Trade Commissioner
He is in his second role as EU Commissioner, previously responsible for agriculture, and confirmed that he is considering an offer. As a politician of the center-right party Fine Gael, he was also a minister in two Irish governments.
He advocates reform at the WTO and agrees with the United States and Japan that global rules on industrial subsidies need to be updated. But his own relationship with Washington was less cordial given the ongoing transatlantic trade tensions.
Tudor Ulianovschi, former Foreign Minister (Moldova)
Ulianovschi, who speaks four languages fluently, was Foreign Minister between 2018 and 2019, was formerly a diplomat and has some experience in the private sector.
The WTO confirmed his candidacy on June 16.
Jesus Seade (Mexico), 73, chief government official of the Mexican government
Mexico nominated Seade, who participated in the revision of the North American Free Trade Agreement, to the WTO on June 8, a document shows. Previously, he worked at universities in Hong Kong.
(Reporting by Emma Farge in Geneva, Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels, Andrea Shalal in Washington, William James in London, Belen Carreno in Madrid, Katharine Houreld in Nairobi and Frank Jack Daniel in Mexico City; editing by Mark Heinrich, Mark Potter and Alex Richardson)
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