Saudi Arabia nominates former minister Mohammad al-Tuwaijri for WTO director-general

Saudi Arabia nominates former minister Mohammad al-Tuwaijri for WTO director-general

Saudi Arabia has nominated Mohammad al-Tuwaijri, the Kingdom’s former Minister of Economy and Planning, to become the next director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The WTO post will become vacant at the end of August after incumbent Roberto Azevedo said he would leave the position a year early.

Al-Tuwaijri was Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Economy and Planning between 2016 and 2020, where he oversaw part of Kingdom’s ambitious economic transformation plan.

The process for appointing the next director-general formally began on June 8, lasting until today, July 8. During that period, all WTO members could nominate a candidate for the role.

After July 8, all candidates are then invited to meet with WTO members. After which, rather than an election, members will carry out a process of elimination of the nominees.

The next WTO chief will likely have to grapple with renewed trade tensions between US and China, and rising protectionism, a dynamic that the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated. Other topics on the agenda expected are new rules regarding e-commerce, and limiting overfishing.

The WTO has broadly been struggling to mandate any multilateral agreements since the trade conflict began between China and the US, with the US administration in particular openly hostile to the organization at times.

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