Ms Amina Mohamed. She is seeking to head the WTO after Pascal Lamy. Photo/FILE
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Two African candidates have stumbled in the race to lead the
World Trade Organisation, along with their counterparts from Costa Rica
and Jordan, sparking anger, Kenya's trade ambassador told AFP Friday.
"We've had a meeting with the troika to brief us
on the outcome of the consultations," said Anthony Andanje, referring to
the top diplomats who are steering the process by polling all 159
member nations of the body that sets the rules of global commerce.
"They told us that the candidates from Ghana,
Costa Rica, Kenya and Jordan were the candidates least expected to get
broad support," Andanje said in Geneva.
An unprecedented nine candidates are in the
running to replace Frenchman Pascal Lamy -- a former European Union
trade chief who has served two four-year terms at the helm of the WTO --
and emerging nations aim to stake their claim on the job which is
vacant on September 1.
With four names now set to be axed from the race
-- Kenya's former trade ambassador Amina Mohamed, plus Costa Rica's
commerce minister Anabel Gonzalez, Jordan's Ahmad Hindawi and Alan
Kyerematen of Ghana -- Brazil's WTO ambassador Roberto Azevedo is seen
as a favourite in diplomatic circles.
But another key name is Indonesia's former trade
minister Mari Pangestu, whose country is due to host the WTO's next
summit at the end of this year -- one of three women in the race, a
first for the organisation.
The remaining challengers are Mexico's Herminio Blanco Mendoza, South Korean Taeho Bark and Tim Groser of New Zealand.
The main task for the WTO's new director general
will be to revive long-stalled talks on boosting international trade,
which Lamy has warned could fail amid nations' bickering.
Unlike similar organisations such as the various
arms of the United Nations, whose chiefs are nominated, the WTO elects
its leader based on a consensus system, meaning any member can block the
Amid reports of horse-trading between different
country blocs -- a common feature of leadership contests in
international organisations -- Andanje said that Kenya was deeply
unhappy with how the race was being run.
"The selection process was flawed and the
procedures were violated," he said, while declining to elaborate on
whether his country would therefore block the process.
"We want to make our reservations known," he emphasised.
The field is expected to be narrowed to two names, with the process expected to be wrapped up by the end of May.
Created in 1995, the WTO aims to advance global
trade negotiations in a drive to spur growth by opening markets and
removing trade barriers, including subsidies, excessive taxes and
Its so-called Doha Round of talks was launched in
2001, with the stated goal of harnessing global commerce to develop
poorer economies, but has faltered in the face of obstacles set in
particular by China, the EU, India and the United States.