Members of the World Trade Organization have dropped three candidates from the list of those racing to be the next Director-General of the body.
With Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala still in the race, the members also plan to reduce the list to two final candidates in the coming weeks, Bloomberg said on Friday.
Okonjo-Iweala is a former finance minister in Nigeria and former Managing Director of the World Bank.
According to the Geneva-based organization, Mexico’s Jesus Seade, Egypt’s Hamid Mamdouh, and Moldova’s Tudor Ulianovschi, did not secure enough support in a first of three rounds of voting.
WTO General Council Chairman, David Walker, said in a statement on Friday:
Their expertise and high professional and personal qualities are highly valued and respected by all members.
As the race to name a new leader by November 7 gathers momentum, the second phase of consultations, reports said, would begin on September 24 and run till October 6 after which the WTO would announce two final candidates.
The race for the position arose when Brazilian Director-General, Roberto Azevedo, decided to step down at the end of August, a year before his term was due to end.
Meanwhile, the remaining contenders were all current or former ministers, something that trade officials had previously said was an important characteristic for a future Director-General.
They are Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi Arabia’s former minister of economy and planning; Liam Fox, the UK’s former secretary of state for international trade; Yoo Myung-hee, South Korea’s trade minister; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; and Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril, Kenya’s former international trade minister.
The campaign to lead the WTO during the most turbulent period of its 25-year existence was playing out against the backdrop of the pandemic, a worldwide recession, the US-China battle for trade supremacy, and the American presidential election.
In the meantime, the vacancy offered an opportunity for the US, the European Union, and other nations to reshape the organisation, whose mission of economic integration was under threat from protectionist policies around the globe and without reform, it risked being sidelined during the biggest economic crisis in a century.