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Amina Mohamed says she will focus on climate change if selected as WTO head

By Reuters | September 25th 2020 at 09:00:00 GMT +0300

Kenya’s candidate to become the next head of the World Trade Organisation pledged on Thursday to integrate climate change issues into the WTO agenda if selected.

Kenya's Amina Mohamed prepares to address the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 22, 2017. [Reuters]

Amina Mohamed, who is the East African nation’s sports minister, progressed to the second round of selection to become the next director-general of the WTO, along with four other candidates, on Friday.

“How is it possible that the WTO does not discuss climate change?... WTO must be a part of the global conversation on climate change,” she told an online media briefing from Geneva.

Mohamed, who was involved in the development of green financial instruments when she was the deputy head of the U.N. agency for the environment (UNEP), said she would make the WTO’s trade and environment committee active.

“At the end of the day, it is about the bottom line, but that bottom line can actually be improved by going green because that is the future,” she said.

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The committee’s first task, if she wins the selection contest, would be to draw up rules for the international trade of environmental goods and services like solar panels and wind turbines, she said.

It will also look to replicate climate change mitigation initiatives, like the carbon tax in Europe, which is now being adopted by other states in places like Africa.

“The WTO can do that on a grander scale... so that the impact of the measures that we are putting in place can be felt,” Mohamed said, adding that the measures will be accompanied by incentives for firms like other tax breaks.

The wider adoption of those climate change mitigation measures will make the globe reap their benefits sooner, because “we don’t have to wait for 50 years” to feel the impact of individual states or trade blocs are doing, she said.

In the second round of selection, the WTO’s 164 members will give their preferences from Sept 24 to Oct 6, whittling the candidates down to two. The organisation has said it wants to select the winner by early November.


WTO Amina Mohamed World Trade Organisation UNEP
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