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The battle is set for WTO DG as Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Jesus Seade Kuri, and Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh crack knockles

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Omenihu Alfred

Time is tickling fast for the replacement of the current Director-General, Mr Roberto Azevêdo, who has announced that he will step down on 31st August 2020. The World Trade Organization (WTO) created in 1995 deals with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.
Strong speculations has it that it will be a tough one for Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as outsider in WTO carrier compared to the other top two contenders. The Mexican Jesús Seade Kuri was a former deputy director general of the GATT and the World Trade Organisation and Mexico’s multilateral ambassador in the creation of WTO. A top or senior officer in the three leading global economic bodies: WTO in Geneva, and World Bank and IMF in Washington DC). Hamid Mamdouh of Egypt is the Director of the Trade in Services division of the WTO. Prior to that he was a Senior Counsellor in the Services Division. He had been the Secretary of the WTO Council for Trade in Services since the establishment of the WTO in 1995.

Mr-Jesús Seade Kuri of Mexico

Nigeria, on 9 June 2020, nominated Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the post While Mexico nominated Mr Jesús Seade Kuri. Egypt equally nominated Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh for same slot. The World Trade Organisation (WTO), has recently mentioned Nigeria’s candidate, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, among the three candidates whose nominations have so far been accepted to vie for the organidation’s Director-General position. The WTO’s General Council Chair, David Walker of New Zealand, who announced the shortlist of three candidates, said Mrs Okonjo-Iweala would contest against the Mexican representative, Jesús Seade Kuri, and Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh of Egypt.
The announcement of the former World Bank Managing Director and two-time Nigerian minister by the organization is coming against a stiff opposition from Egypt. After her nomination, the Egyptian government wrote to the African Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa to demand that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala be disqualified, as she was coming into the race after three candidates had already been shortlisted. The three candidates included Eloi Laourou of the Republic of Benin, Abdulhameed Mamdouh of the Arab Republic of Egypt and Mr Agah of Nigeria.
With the withdrawal of current deputy Director General of WTO, Yonov Frederick Agah’s candidature, the Egyptian government said it was requesting the Ministerial Committee on Candidatures to officially inform the African Group in Geneva about the development and Nigeria’s disqualification. Mr Walker said the release of the three-member candidates’ shortlist was in line with the procedures for appointing the WTO Director-General as described in document WT/L/509. The procedures included that WTO members would be informed of nominations of candidates as soon as they are received from their countries.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

On May 20, 2020, Mr Walker noted the appointment process for the next Director-General would formally commenced on June 8 with nominations accepted till July 8. After July 8, a consolidated list of all the candidates would be issued, while candidates would be invited to meet with members at a special General Council meeting shortly after the nomination period has closed. During the meeting, the candidates would be allowed to present their views and take questions from members.
There is this wide speculation that going into a contest with a legend like Dr Okonjo-Iweala will certainly cost a stir among other contestants. A renowned global finance expert, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala is an economist and international development professional with over 30 years-experience, having worked in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America. She is currently the Chair of the Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; a member of the Boards of Standard Chartered PLC and Twitter Inc, and was recently appointed as African Union (AU) Special Envoy to mobilise International Financial Support in the fight against COVID-19, as well as Special Envoy for the World Health Organization’s Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator. Twice Nigeria’s finance minister (2003-2006) and (2011-2015), Mrs Okonjo-Iweala also served briefly as Nigeria’s foreign minister in 2006, the first Nigerian woman to hold both positions. As finance minister, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala steered Nigeria through a varying degree of reforms, particularly on macroeconomic, trade, financial and real sector issues.
She had a 25-year career at the World Bank as a development economist, rising to the position of managing director (operations). As managing director (operations) at the World Bank, her several portfolios included oversight responsibility for the Bank’s $81 billion operational portfolios in Africa, South Asia, Europe and Central Asia.
She spearheaded several World Bank initiatives to assist low-income countries during the 2008-2009 food crisis and later in the trying period of the global financial crisis. In 2010, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala served as chair of the World Bank’s successful drive to raise $49.3 billion in grants and low-interest credit for the poorest countries of the world.

Jesús Seade Kuri is currently professor of economics at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, is a former deputy director general of the GATT and the World Trade Organisation. He has also been a senior adviser to the IMF and principal economist at the World Bank. Jesús Seade serves as Undersecretary for North America for the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He previously served as Chief NAFTA Negotiator for President Lopez Obrador. Seade holds a Chemical Engineering degree (Summa Cum Laude) from UNAM-Mexico, and a BPhil and DPhil degrees in Economics from the University of Oxford. He has led a very global career straddling academia (in UK, France, Mexico, Hong Kong and China) and high-level public service nationally and internationally (Mexico’s multilateral ambassador in the creation of WTO; and top or senior officer in the three leading global economic bodies: WTO in Geneva, and World Bank and IMF in Washington DC). As Ambassador to GATT, he led Mexico’s playing a very influential and constructive role in the creation of WTO. As WTO Deputy Director-General he led economic work and relations with governments, legislatures, press and business sectors in member countries around the world. As IMF Senior Advisor he held final responsibility, under the IMF Board, for IMF policies (inc. each disbursement) towards three major countries in financial crisis in 1998-2001: Brazil, Argentina and Turkey, and later presided over all IMF transparency work (fiscal, banking and data). As an academic, he has influential publications listed in doctoral programs in the US and Europe for over 30 years, in public finance, market structure and international trade. In Hong Kong and China he has been Vice-President of two leading universities and, in HK, he was a member of the Advisory Boards of the ministers of trade and of financial services. He has a reputation as a multilateralist and unsuccessfully sought the Nafta job when the trade pact was negotiated a quarter-century ago, but was seen as a good choice.
Abdel-Hamid-Mamdouh

Hamid Mamdouh is the Director of the Trade in Services division of the WTO. Prior to that he was a Senior Counsellor in the Services Division. He had been the Secretary of the WTO Council for Trade in Services since the establishment of the WTO in 1995. During that time, he was also responsible for all legal affairs in the area of Trade in Services. During the Uruguay Round negotiations his responsibilities included legal matters relating to the drafting of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Prior to that he was a member of the Diplomatic Service of Egypt. As a trained lawyer, legal matters have constituted an important part of his work throughout his career.