Home View Point Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala battles WTO top job with deep insider

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala battles WTO top job with deep insider


… as ECOWAS gives her full backing

The World Trade Organisation top according lots of speculations will definitely be a battle of the titan as the Nigeria nominee Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala faces stiff opposition from the Egyptian super lawyer Hamid Mamdouh and the Mexican Jesús Seade Kuri.
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.

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.

Dr Ngozi Okonj Iweala 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.

In anycase, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has endorsed the candidature of Nigerian Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.

A statement signed by the chairperson of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government Mahamadou Issoufou also called on other African countries and non-African countries to support her candidature.


“…since the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 1 January 1995, which is a successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) established on 1 January 1948, no African has assumed the position of Director-General of the Organization,” the statement said in part.

Okonjo-Iweala, currently the chair of the board of Gavi, the vaccine alliance, has previously served as Nigeria’s Minister for Finance and Foreign Affairs and was also Managing Director Operations at the World Bank.