Amina Mohamed gets nod to proceed to next round in WTO race

Kenya's candidate in the race for World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General post CS Amina Mohamed has qualified for the next round of tests, the council announced on Friday.

Addressing envoys of member states in Geneva, Switzerland on Friday, WTO General Council Chair David Walker said Ms Mohamed and four other candidates will stay in the race after they secured “the broadest and deepest support from the WTO membership.”

“After a two-week consultation between envoys of the 164-member WTO, the global trade referring body retained Mohamed, Nigeria’s Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Yoo Myung-hee (South Korea), Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri (Saudi Arabia) and (Dr Liam Fox) the United Kingdom,” he said.

The five will compete in the next round that starts on September 24 and end on October 6.

After this round, only two candidates will move to the final stage.

 “Members consider all 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,” Walker said.

Egypt's Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh, Dr Jesús Seade Kuri of Mexico and Mr Tudor Ulianovschi of Moldova were dropped from the race after receiving the least indications of support from member states.

Ms Mohamed had contested against Azevêdo in 2013, but lost on a decision made by consensus among member states.

The director-general of the WTO is appointed through consensus, meaning candidates will have to do lots of horse-trading ahead of the decision on August 31.

Ms Mohamed is seen as having an upper hand for the Geneva-based position having worked in Geneva as ambassador as well as hosting the WTO's ministerial conference in Nairobi in 2015 when she was the country's trade minister.

“There’s no time to go through a learning curve — one needs to hit the ground running," Mohamed said in an interview from Geneva.

There is consensus in Geneva that it's time for an African trade chief as the continent has never held the post and this could work in favour of Mohamed.

The WTO, formed in 1995 is a rule-making body that guides international trade and tries to resolves disputes.