WTO Director-General nominations — Kenya puts forward Amb. Amina C. Mohamed as a candidate



Terence P. Stewart | Current Thoughts on Trade

It is understood that the Republic of Kenya forwarded to the WTO on July 7 its nomination of Amb. Amina C. Mohamed as a candidate for the Director-General position of the World Trade Organization. It is understood that Amb. Mohamed’s nomination will be reflected in a press release tomorrow, July 8.

There had been early speculation that Amb. Mohamed would be nominated. She has served as Kenya’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister for the period 2013-2018 and chaired the 2015 WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi. Amb. Mohamed also served as Kenya’s Permanent Representative and Ambassador to the WTO during the period 2000-2006. While serving as Kenya’s Ambassador to the WTO, she served as Chairperson to the General Council (2005), the Dispute Settlement Body (2004) and the Trade Policy Review Body (2004). She also had been a candidate in 2012-2013 for the Director-General position, a position that ultimately went to Roberto Azevedo of Brazil. In a thumbnail evaluation, Amb. Mohamed is a candidate from an African country (Africa has never had a Director-General at the WTO), one with significant trade, WTO and high political office experience. She is reportedly well respected by WTO Members for her efforts over the last two decades.

With the submission by Kenya of Amb. Mohamed’s nomination, there are now six candidates who have been put forward. She is the third candidate from Africa. The other candidates are Jesus Seade Kuri (Mexico), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria), Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt), Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova) and Yoo Myung-hee (Republic of Korea).

The concern amongst some WTO watchers has been that too many candidates from Africa would result in divided loyalties of WTO African Members during the DG selection process which would harm the likelihood of any of the African candidates being selected as the consensus choice for Director-General. Time will tell whether the nomination of three candidates from African countries has the effect of reducing support for any of the three or results in the Director-General not being chosen from one of the three African country nominations.

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