Two out of the three women running for WTO leadership are African

21st September 2020

A shortlist for the World Trade Organization's (WTO) next director-general has been whittled down to just five candidates, three of them women and two from Africa.

The international trade body is looking for a leader to replace Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down at the end of August. It has not had a leader who is female or from Africa since its creation 25 years ago.

The Geneva-based body announced the five to go through to the next round are Kenyan minister Amina Mohamed, former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, Saudi Arabia's Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri and former British minister Liam Fox.

Those eliminated from the race include Mexico's Jesus Seade, Egypt's Hamid Mamdouh and Moldovan Tudor Ulianovschi.

Amid COVID-19 and major trade wars, the intergovernmental body that has been helping to regulate international trade between nations since 1995 is widely seen to be in need of reform, with a lot riding on the competition's outcome.

During round two of the competition, from 24 September to 6 October, the WTO's members are set to give their preferences for the next leader until just two candidates are left.

The body says it wants to select a winner by early November, with each of its 164 member having to agree on the candidate

"The objective is to have this process completed within two months – it began on 7 September, so on or about 7 November, so we are on track for this. The process has gone smoothly," said WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell.

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