As the World Trade Organization (WTO) prepares to search for a new director-general, an Egyptian candidate says Africa is more than ready to take up the post.
Hamid Mamdouh, a former Egyptian diplomat, told AFP in an interview this week, African countries were determined to take the reins of the organization for the first time since all other regions have already occupied it. "The African Union decided back in July 2019 that the next director-general of the WTO should be from Africa, It's a strong sentiment,” said the 67-year-old, who spent more than 20 years in high-level WTO posts.
Mamdouh, who holds a dual Swiss and Egypt citizenship, is among three candidates who were preselected by the African Union, for consideration.
He arrived Geneva in 1985 as an Egyptian trade negotiator before joining the WTO's predecessor GATT in 1990 as a legal advisor.
He later became a deputy director-general.
The other two African candidates are Nigerian Yonov Frederick Agah, a WTO deputy director-general, and Eloi Laourou, Benin's ambassador to the UN in Geneva,
The AU had been aiming to whittle the choice down to a single African candidate by July, ahead of the initially scheduled kick-off date for a months-long election process in December.
However, earlier this month, the WTO's current chief, Roberto Azevedo of Brazil, suddenly announced his "personal decision" to step down on August 31st, a year before his mandate expires.
The unexpected announcement has forced the global trade body to accelerate the nomination process, with anyone wishing to replace him, to announce their candidacy between June 8th to July 8th.
The 164-member organization was already in crisis before the pandemic hit, dealing with raging trade wars and scathing criticism from the United States under President Donald Trump, who has pushed for reforms of the Geneva-based body. #s63 - 10 minutes ago