Race for WTO top job heats up – Five official candidates including NZ’s Tim Groser; Indonesia nomination still to complete paperwork

Two more candidates for the top World Trade Organisation job tossed their hats into the ring yesterday joining NZ’s Tim Groser and candidates from Costa Rica and Ghana.

Groser’s candidacy – first revealed by this journalist in the NZ Herald in August – was expected. After four years as trade minister, Groser has polished his political skills and developed a high-level international ministerial network giving him additional cachet on top of his prior career as an ‘uber official’.

Politics will play a huge part in the selection process. What should count is competency. But the WTO has to weigh “diversity” as one of the deciding factors giving impetus to candidates from Africa, Costa Rica and Indonesia to present themselves as “developing world” candidates.  ‘Diversity” could also raise the chances of the three female candidates who have now declared.

Jordan nominated  Ahmad Thougan Al Hindawi (Trade minister  2004 to 2005).  His bio says he played an important role in Jordan’s accession to the WTO and in negotiating a free trade agreement with the United States. Kenya nominated Amina Mohamed – the first woman to chair the WTO General Council.

The other candidates are Ghana’s Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen, Costa Rica’s Anabel Gonzalez and Indonesia’s Mari Elka Pangestu who announced by her Government but has yet to complete the paperwork, after which there will be six in the race.

WTO members have the period from Dec. 1-31 to nominate their candidates for the DG slot. Candidates  then present themselves to the WTO membership at the Jan. 29 General Council meeting. The selection process will conclude with a decision by the General Council no later than May 31, 2013.

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