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 Okonjo-Iweala sails through as WTO drops three candidates


Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Nigerian minister of finance, is among the five candidates retained for the next stage of the contest for the World Trade Organisation’s director-general position.

The WTO on Friday said it took another step towards selecting its next Director-General as it named the five candidates that will advance to the next stage of the screening.

The five candidates who would advance are Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria, Yoo Myung-hee of the Republic of Korea, Amina C. Mohamed of Kenya, Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Liam Fox of the United Kingdom.

“Throughout the six days of consultations it was clear to us that the entire membership is both committed to and fully engaged in this process,” says David Walker, Chair of the General Council.

“Members consider all (the candidates) highly qualified and respected individuals. I would also like to pay tribute to the dignified manner in which they, their delegations, and their Governments have conducted themselves in this process.

“Their willingness to engage, especially at these challenging times, has been greatly appreciated, and the Organization is in their debt. Their expertise and high professional and personal qualities are highly valued and respected by all Members. I am sure I speak on behalf of all of you in wishing them well in their future endeavours,” he said.



The second phase of consultations will begin on 24 September and run until 6 October, Mr Walker said.

During the one-month nomination period from 7 June to 7 July a total of eight candidates were nominated by their respective countries.

They include Jesus Seade Kuri of Mexico; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria; Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh of Egypt; Tudor Ulianovschi of Moldova; Yoo Myung-hee of Korea; Amina C. Mohamed of Kenya; Mohammed Maziad Al-Tuwaijri of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; and  Liam Fox of the United Kingdom.

Consequently, candidates dropped by the screening committee include Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh of Egypt; Tudor Ulianovschi of Moldova and Jesus Seade Kuri of Mexico.



In its statement Friday, WTO said the ultimate objective of “the measured and clearly defined process” is to secure a consensus decision by members on the next Director-General.

“The General Council agreed on 31 July that there would be three stages of consultations held over a two-month period commencing 7 September. During these two months the number of candidates would be reduced from eight to five and then two before a consensus is reached on which of the candidates becomes the WTO’s 7th Director-General. In trimming the roster of candidates from eight to five, WTO members have concluded the first of these consultative stages.

“The consultation process taken by facilitators has been set by guidelines established by the General Council in a 2002 decision. According to these guidelines, the key consideration in determining which candidate is best poised to achieve consensus is the “breadth of support” each candidate receives from the members.”

During the DG selection processes of 2005 and 2013, breadth of support was defined as “the distribution of preferences across geographic regions and among the categories of Members generally recognized in WTO provisions: that is (Least developed countries), developing countries and developed countries”.

“The process for selecting a new Director-General was triggered on 14 May when former Director-General Roberto Azevêdo informed WTO members he would be stepping down from his post one year before the expiry of his mandate. He subsequently left office on 31 August,” the statement said.

“Amb. Walker immediately proceeded with the procedures for the appointment of the Director-General that were agreed under the 2002 guidelines. These guidelines require the General Council Chair to begin consultations with members on DG selection as soon as possible and ‘may establish expedited deadlines as necessary in consultation in Member’.”

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