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Al-Tuwaijri advances to second round of WTO chief selection

September 19, 2020

JEDDAH — Saudi Arabia’s former Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri has joined a select group of candidates in the second round of voting for the next World Trade Organization (WTO) chief, according to a statement from the WTO office on Friday.

He is among five candidates that passed the first round of the competition for the job which began in July to find a successor to the current WTO head Roberto Azevedo, who announced plans to resign early.

Al-Tuwaijri was the Kingdom’s Minister of Economy and Planning between 2016 and 2020, where he oversaw part of the Kingdom’s ambitious economic transformation plan.

The other four to go through to the next round are Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria, Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea, Amina C. Mohamed of Kenya and Liam Fox of the United Kingdom.

'Throughout the six days of consultations it was clear to us that the entire membership is both committed to and fully engaged in this process,' said Ambassador David Walker, chair of the WTO’s General Council. Walker expressed his gratitude to all the candidates, including those who will not advance further.

'Members consider all (the candidates) highly qualified and respected individuals. I would also like to pay tribute to the dignified manner in which they, their delegations, and their governments have conducted themselves in this process. Their willingness to engage, especially at these challenging times, has been greatly appreciated, and the Organization is in their debt. Their expertise and high professional and personal qualities are highly valued and respected by all members. I am sure I speak on behalf of all of you in wishing them well in their future endeavors,' he said.

Walker said the second phase of consultations will begin on Sept. 24 and run until Oct. 5. During this time, members will be asked in the confidential consultations to express two preferences to the facilitators with an eye to bringing the number of candidates from five to two. Following this process, Ambassador Walker will call another heads of delegations meeting at which the results will be announced to the WTO membership. The timetable for the third and final round of consultations will be announced at that time.

The ultimate objective of this measured and clearly defined process is to secure a consensus decision by members on the next director-general.

The General Council agreed on July 31 that there would be three stages of consultations held over a two-month period commencing Sept. 7.

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