While no Africans and no women have ever been at the helm of the global trade body. Two African women are among the five candidates still in the running to take the World Trade Organization top job.
The WTO has been leaderless since Roberto Azevedo stepped down as WTO chief last month, a year ahead of schedule. On Friday the pool of eight candidates was whittled down to five. It includes women Amina Mohamed of Kenya, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria, and Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea. Male candidates still in the running are Liam Fox of Britain and Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri of Saudi Arabia.
Ambassador Amina Mohamed is a committed international civil servant who has
had a distinguished career in both public and foreign service. She has served in
strategic government positions and been elected to key international positions.
Her work experience in over twenty six years covers a broad spectrum of domestic
and international assignments.
Having mastered the technical details of the WTO after chairing many of its top committees, Mohamed advocates a thorough-going reform of the organization. She sees the role of the next director-general job at the WTO as energizing the organization, encouraging the uptick in trade facilitation and rejection of the trade restrictions introduced in the early days of the pandemic this year.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria) disclosed last month some of her plans for the Organization if made President. She noted that part of her vision is to build a trade institution where there is greater trust among its members. She also stressed that the WTO, at this critical time, is needed to ensure that trade and global markets remain open.
She added she would listen to both countries to find out what really are the issues causing distrust among them. She said that she will not want to be involved in the larger political problems, but will rather separate the trade issues and focus on them and build this trust.
The winner will be decided in a third round of voting in early November. But it is feared increasing politicisation of the organisation, which relies on consensus to reach decisions, could draw out the process much longer. Whoever is named the successor will have a tough job ahead as the global economy is battered by the coronavirus pandemic and the United States and China are locked in a trade dispute.