Egypt's nominee is out of the race for WTO director-general

Ahram Online , Thursday 17 Sep 2020

Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh, the Egyptian candidate to head the WTO (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt’s nominee for the post of World Trade Organization (WTO) director-general, Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh, told Reuters on Thursday that he was out of the race.

The veteran trade adept was nominated by Egypt in June as the first Egyptian national in the running to lead the WTO.

Director-General Roberto Azevêdo announced in May that he would step down from his position in August, a year before his second term ends.

Mamdouh, an international trade expert with 35 years’ experience, including years inside the WTO and its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), told Ahram Online in an interview that he was running for the post because "I truly believe in the system."

“I believe in the values that the system stands for, the values of non-discrimination, rules-based trading relations and the strategic importance of trade itself as an engine for trade and economic development in general and especially for the development of countries,” he said.

Eight candidates were running for the position of the WTO director-general. According to the WTO, from 15 to 17 July, all the candidates met with WTO members at a special General Council meeting, at which they had the opportunity to present their views and take questions from the membership.

The second phase of the process in which the candidates “make themselves known to members” ended on 7 September.

The WTO is scheduled to announce on Friday which five of the eight candidates will go on to a second round of voting among members to choose the next director general of the global trade body.

On Thursday, Reuters said that Mamdouh, as well as the Mexican and Moldovan candidates, were out of the race, quoting four sources with knowledge of the situation.

Mamdouh told the agency himself he was out, Reuters said.

The five remaining candidates are from Britain, South Korea, Kenya, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, although a US source told Reuters that the Saudi candidate had also been ousted in an unexpected move given that only three candidates were expected to be ousted in the current round of voting.

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