Saudi Ara­bia nom­i­nates royal court of­fi­cial for di­rec­tor gen­eral post at WTO

The National - News - - BUSINESS - DEEPTHI NAIR

Saudi Ara­bia nom­i­nated Mo­ham­mad Al Tuwai­jri, a min­is­ter ad­vis­ing the royal court on in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal eco­nomic mat­ters, for the di­rec­tor gen­eral post at the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Mr Al Tuwai­jri pre­vi­ously served as a min­is­ter of econ­omy and plan­ning and is a sea­soned banker, hav­ing worked with the Saudi Bri­tish Bank, JP Mor­gan and HSBC. The for­mer Saudi Air Force pi­lot is a strong ad­vo­cate of Saudi Vi­sion 2030, the king­dom’s eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion pro­gramme that seeks to re­duce the coun­try’s reliance on oil.

The WTO, formed in 1995, is an in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion that reg­u­lates in­ter­na­tional trade be­tween na­tions. The trade body, based in Geneva, in­cludes 164 mem­ber states and Roberto Azevedo, its cur­rent di­rec­tor gen­eral, will step down on Au­gust 31. The new leader will take over at the global in­sti­tu­tion amid a world trade slump in­duced by Covid-19. World trade vol­ume is es­ti­mated to shrink 11.9 per cent this year as a re­sult of weaker de­mand for goods and ser­vices, as well as tourism, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund. Trade grew 0.9 per cent last year.

The new WTO di­rec­tor gen­eral must re­vive stalled trade talks and mend ties with the US, which has threat­ened to leave the or­gan­i­sa­tion and bat­tled other mul­ti­lat­eral in­sti­tu­tions. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has ac­cused the WTO of “un­fair treat­ment” of the US.

The UK has nom­i­nated for­mer in­ter­na­tional trade sec­re­tary Liam Fox as its can­di­date for the WTO post, while Kenya nom­i­nated Amina Mo­hamed, a for­mer WTO gen­eral coun­cil chair. Ms Mo­hamed also served pre­vi­ously as Kenya’s for­eign af­fairs and in­ter­na­tional trade min­is­ter and as­sis­tant sec­re­tary gen­eral at the UN.

Other can­di­dates in­clude for­mer Egyp­tian diplo­mat Hamid Mam­douh, Mex­ico’s for­mer WTO deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral Je­sus Seade Kuri, Moldova’s for­mer for­eign min­is­ter Tu­dor Ulianovsch­i, Nige­ria’s for­mer for­eign and fi­nance min­is­ter Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea trade min­is­ter Yoo Myung-hee.

The nom­i­na­tion pe­riod closed on Wed­nes­day. Mr Azevedo’s early de­par­ture has forced the WTO’s mem­ber states to come up with a suc­ces­sor in only three months in­stead of the usual nine.

The se­lec­tion pro­ce­dure re­lies on find­ing con­sen­sus, with can­di­dates elim­i­nated in sev­eral rounds. If the gen­eral coun­cil fails to take a de­ci­sion by con­sen­sus, vot­ing will be al­lowed as a last re­sort.

The process to ap­point a di­rec­tor gen­eral is over­seen by the chair of the gen­eral coun­cil in con­sul­ta­tion with mem­bers. The gen­eral coun­cil chair is as­sisted in the process by the chairs of the dis­pute set­tle­ment body and the trade pol­icy re­view body.

The nom­i­nated can­di­dates have three months to make them­selves known to mem­bers and to en­gage in dis­cus­sions on per­ti­nent is­sues fac­ing the WTO. Can­di­dates should have ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, en­com­pass­ing eco­nomic, trade and/or po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence.

The WTO di­rec­tor-gen­eral is ap­pointed for a term of of­fice of four years, and is el­i­gi­ble for reap­point­ment for a fur­ther term not ex­ceed­ing four years.

The new WTO di­rec­tor gen­eral must re­vive stalled trade talks and mend ties with the US

AP

Mo­ham­mad Al Tuwai­jri is also a for­mer econ­omy and plan­ning min­is­ter with stints at banks in­clud­ing JP Mor­gan and HSBC

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