After the current director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Roberto Azevêdo’s surprise resignation earlier this year, the global body has now launched itself into the process of seeking a new leader, amid one of the most trying times for trade in recent history.
The initial nomination period for the selection process for a new director-general ended on July 8, with eight candidates being put forward by Mexico, Nigeria, Egypt, Moldova, South Korea, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.
Despite rumours that Arancha González, Spain’s minister of foreign affairs and former WTO chief of staff, would be a shoo-in for the role, there are no nominees from a European Union member state. In a speech at an event organised by Europa Press last week, González stated that she would instead be dedicating herself to contributing to multilateralism from Spain. “I am committed to my country and to the foreign policy direction of the EU, and that’s where I’ll be focussing,” she said.
With González firmly out of the running, there is no obvious favourite for the role. The candidates now have until September 7 to make themselves known to WTO members, before a final selection phase will begin. In order to avoid diverting political energy and attention from preparations for the Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12), which is set to be held in 2021, the WTO plans to wrap up the process by November at the latest, and therefore will need to determine which candidate is best placed to attract consensus support sooner rather than later.
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