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WTO trims DG race to two, as Africa expresses disappointment

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AlanThe race for a new Director General for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has been narrowed to two candidates.

The Geneva-based institution on April 26, 2013 announced that Herminio Blanco of Mexico and Brazilian Roberto Carvalho de Azevêdo made the final cut.

A final appointment is expected to be made not later than May 31, 2013, according to the WTO whose current DG Pascal Lamy steps down August 31, 2013.

According to a statement by Chair of the WTO General Council, Shahid Bashir of Pakistan, it will “begin the third and final round of consultations based on a revised slate of the two candidates”.

The statement says these consultations will begin on Wednesday May 1, 2013 and continue through May 7.

The WTO DG race started with nine candidates – Roberto Azevedo from Brazil, Herminio Blanco Mendoza from Mexico, Anabel Gonzalez from Costa Rica, Taeho Bark from the Republic of Korea, Tim Groser from New Zealand, Ahmad Hindawi from Jordan, Alan Kyerematen from Ghana, Amina Mohamed from Kenya and Mari Pangestu from Indonesia.

But the number was first pruned down to five and saw Ghana’s Alan Kyerematen, Amina Mohamed from Kenya, Anabel Gonzalez from Costa Rica and Jordanian Ahmad Hindawi out.

The second phase also witnessed Mari Elka Pangestu (Indonesia), Tim Groser (New Zealand) and Taeho Bark (Republic of Korea) getting less support leading to their exit.

The drop in the race by the two African candidates did not excite the continent.

The officially endorsed African candidate was Ghana’s former Trade Minister, Mr Kyerematen who is also a trade advisor to the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Expressing his disappointment in the WTO DG race process, Mr Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the ECA told ghanabusinessnews.com via Facebook that “The ECA and Africa as a whole feel very sad that those who passed judgement on who finally gets this post did not see or appreciate Alan’s qualities and leadership skills.”

The African Union has since not made an official statement on the development. An email sent by ghanabusinesssnews.com to the AU’s Commissioner for Trade and Industry via the Secretary has not been responded to.

But Ghana has commented on the matter. Its Trade Minister, Haruna Iddrisu raised some issues on how the WTO went about the selection process.

“We are very much disappointed in the procedures that [they] adopted particularly the selection which was done on five preferences instead of the four which was agreed as a rule…that will guide the next possible action that Ghana as a country may consider,” Mr Iddrisu told Joy FM in an interview.

Kenya has formally contested the manner in which its candidate was bundled out of the race.

In a letter to the WTO General Council on the selection process, the East African newspaper reported that Kenya claims “the selection process for round one consultations was grossly flawed and has eroded the credibility of the entire process.”

But it’s unclear whether Kenya’s threats to veto the final outcome explains the delay in revealing the two final candidates, the publication added.

By Ekow Quandzie

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