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WTO: Okonjo-Iweala, seven others vie for DG

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THREE last-minute contenders, yesterday, joined the race for the next Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, bringing the total number of candidates contesting the position to eight.

  Britain’s first post-Brexit International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, former Saudi Economy Minister, Mohammed al-Tuwaijri and Kenya’s former WTO General Council Chairperson, Amina Mohamed all threw their hats in the ring in the final 24 hours before yesterday’s deadline.

They join candidates from Egypt, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria and South Korea, a WTO official confirmed after the close of nominations.

The WTO General Council will meet from July 15-17 to hear their presentations and quiz them on their plans for the global trade body, which was beset with mammoth challenges even before the global economic crisis occasioned by the pandemic struck.

“As the world seeks to recover from the shared challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of free and fair trade has never been more crucial,” British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said in his letter to the WTO, nominating Fox.

He said the former Defense Minister could implement the necessary reforms “to ensure the global trading system truly delivers for all WTO members.”

The new chief must revive stalled trade talks, lay the ground for the 2021 ministerial conference, one of the WTO’s major events and thaw relations with the United States.

The WTO finds itself caught in the middle of rising tensions between Washington and Beijing.

The United States, which has threatened to leave the WTO, has blocked the organisation’s dispute settlement appeal system since December, and wants China moved up from the developing economies category.

The Geneva-based organisation is staging a swift contest to replace outgoing director-general, Roberto Azevedo.

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