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Two African women make WTO top job shortlist

The second process runs until the 6th of October.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Amina Mohamed of Kenya

The final five candidates for the leadership of the World Trade Organisation have been reached by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria and Amina Mohamed of Kenya, placing further pressure on Africa to back a single candidate to hold the highest role in global trade.

Although the advancement of Okonjo-Iweala, former World Bank managing director and Nigerian finance minister, and Mohamed, former chairman of the WTO general council, will raise African representatives, Egyptian Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh has failed to gain adequate support to enter the next round.

Mamdouh was a former Director of the WTO's Trade in Services and Investment Division.

The two African candidates, who will now fight to unify the continent's vote will face off against South Korea's Yoo Myung-hee, Saudi Arabia's Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri and the UK's Liam Fox.

The second process runs until the 6th of October.

Two preferences with an eye to bringing the number of candidates from five to two will be expressed by the Member States.

Consultations will take place in three phases, with the winner taking office in November.

In a period of high global trade tensions, including an ongoing trade war between the US and China, the world's two largest economies, the new director-general, who will succeed incumbent Roberto Azevêdo, will take charge.

It is hoped that an African candidate can help to mediate that dispute and put African trade concerns at the heart of the international agenda.

“Africa has some painful choices to make both in terms of its own unity and, in the long run, for its future in international trade. Should an African DG be selected, they would be symbolic of African unity and, subsequently, well-positioned to cajole Africa on internal issues,” wrote JP Singh, professor of international commerce and policy at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University (US) in August for African Business magazine.
Kenya's Mohamed said in an interview last week with African Business magazine that she will be well-placed to address multilateral trade tensions.

It is credited in a crucial WTO deal with helping to eliminate export subsidies for agricultural exports. Ojonko-Iweala argued last week in an interview with The Guardian about her own suitability for the role.

“I have a very strong trade background. Trade is not a siloed discipline. Trade is part of development, something I have been working at my whole life.

“It’s true I am not a WTO insider but that’s a good thing. We need someone who knows trade but brings a fresh pair of eyes…Of all the challengers for the job I have the right combination of skills.”

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