Ex-UK Minister, Kenya Sport Minister bids for top WTO jobs

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Britain will nominate former trade secretary Liam Fox as its candidate to be the next director general of the World Trade Organization, it said on Wednesday.

“Dr Fox is a passionate advocate of multilateralism, who brings detailed knowledge of the global trading system from his years as a UK Cabinet Minister and Secretary of State for International Trade,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

“He has first-hand experience of the political and technical challenges of negotiating trade agreements, and the reforms that are needed to ensure the global trading system truly delivers for all WTO members.”

Also, Kenya’s sports and culture minister Amina Mohamed will run to be the next Director-General of the WTO, a spokesperson said on Wednesday and a WTO official confirmed.

“For Amina Mohamed, yes we can confirm that we received her nomination from Kenya late yesterday,” a WTO official said.

The Geneva-based body is seeking a replacement for Brazil’s Roberto Azevedo who is stepping down a year early at the end of August at a critical juncture for the trade watchdog.

His successor will need to steer reforms and negotiations in the face of rising protectionism, a deep recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and growing trade tensions, notably between the United States and China.

Mohamed, a former Kenyan ambassador to the WTO and the first woman to chair the WTO’s General Council in 2005, is the sixth candidate to be officially nominated, alongside others from Egypt, Nigeria, South Korea, Mexico and Moldova.

Three of them are women. Nominations close later on Wednesday.

There is broad support for an African candidate and a woman, since neither have headed the Geneva-based body in the past, sources following the process said.