The World Trade Organisation, WTO has pruned to five the field of contenders for its vacant position of director-general, with Nigeria’s candidate, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, top on the list.
The decision was announced today following a meeting of WTO General Council Chair, David Walker and two co-facilitators in the DG selection process, Amb. Dacio Castillo of Honduras and Amb. Harald Aspelund of Iceland.
The outcome of the shortlisting of the five out of eight contestants was announced to the meeting of Heads of Delegation by Walker.
Apart from Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria, the other remaining four contenders are Yoo Myung-hee of the Republic of Korea, Amina C. Mohamed of Kenya, Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Liam Fox of the United Kingdom.
“Throughout the six days of consultations it was clear to us that the entire membership is both committed to and fully engaged in this process,” said Amb. Walker, who expressed his gratitude to all the candidates, including those who will not advance further.
“Members consider all (the candidates) 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. Their willingness to engage, especially at these challenging times, has been greatly appreciated, and the Organization is in their debt.
“Their expertise and high professional and personal qualities are highly valued and respected by all Members. I am sure I speak on behalf of all of you in wishing them well in their future endeavours,” he said.
During the confidential consultations Amb. Walker of New Zealand, Amb. Castillo, chair of the Dispute Settlement Body, and Amb. Aspelund, chair of the Trade Policy Review Body, posed to each delegation a single question: “What are your preferences?” Members then submitted four preferences to the “troika” of ambassadors.
Amb. Walker said the second phase of consultations will begin on 24 September and run until 6 October.
During this time, members will be asked in the confidential consultations to express two preferences to the facilitators with an eye to bringing the number of candidates from five to two.
Following this process, Amb. Walker will call another Heads of Delegations meeting at which the results will be announced to the WTO membership.
The timetable for the third and final round of consultations will be announced at that time.