How they stand: The final eight candidates for WTO top job


The nomination process for the office of the director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has finally closed, and all the candidates for the WTO top job are now known.

There are eight candidates in the race; three from Africa, two from Europe, one from the Middle-East, one from North America, and one from Asia.

In the race are three women — Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Amina Mohammed and Yoo Myung-hee — and four men. If any of the women win, she would become the first female WTO DG since the organisation was set up 25 years ago.

TheCable reviewed the biography of all seven candidates and here is how they stand:

Jesús Seade Kuri

Country Mexico
Age 73
Occupation Chemical Engineer, economist, diplomat, politician
Current job Undersecretary for North America in Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Education Chemical Engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM); master and PhD in economics from the University of Oxford
Previous international jobs World Bank chief economist; founding deputy director-general of the World Trade Organization; senior advisor at the IMF; vice-president of Lingnan University in Hong Kong
Previous local jobs North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiator for Mexico
Current international jobs Professor of Economics at Lingnan University in Hong Kong
Awards N/A
Selling point Experience in the creation of WTO and at its highest level of governance
WTO experience Worked at the WTO from inception till October 1998
Quotable quote “Digital trade is an opportunity to expand availability, choice and lower the price.”
Quick fact Speaks all official languages of the WTO — English, Spanish and French

Tudor Ulianovschi

Country Moldova
Age 37
Occupation Politician, diplomat
Current job Senior Vice President at Grasshopper Energy
Education A Ph.D. candidate at the Free International University of Moldova
Previous international jobs Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva; President of the Trade and Development Board at UNCTAD, Vice President of the General Assembly at WIPO, President of the Steering Committee on Trade at UNECE.
Previous local jobs Foreign minister of Moldova; Moldovan Ambassador to Liechtenstein and Switzerland;
Current international jobs None
Awards Moldova distinguished personality of the year – 2018 by VIP Magazin; Man of the Year 2019 by Aquarelle media
Selling point Experience at the highest level of the WTO
WTO experience Chair of the Balance of Payments Committee of the WTO; Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization
Quotable quote “No one should be left behind; this is not just a simple phrase, it is important to have an inclusive approach.”
Quick fact The diplomat who speaks English, Russian, French,  Arabic and Romanian has 15 years of experience in diplomacy and international trade


Country Saudi Arabia
Age 60
Occupation Pilot, banker, politician
Current job Royal Court advisor in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Education B.Sc Aeronautics at King Faisal Air Force Academy, MBA from King Saud University
Previous international jobs Group managing director, deputy chairman and CEO at HSBC, UAE.
Previous local jobs Former minister of economy and planning; managing director and CEO of JP Morgan, Saudi Arabia; head of risk management, Saudi British Bank.
Current international jobs None
Awards N/A
Selling point Representing a large bloc — middle east and north africa
WTO experience None
Quotable quote N/A
Quick fact If he wins, he would be the first WTO DG from an Arab nation




Amina Mohamed Jibril

Country Kenya
Age 58
Occupation Lawyer, diplomat, and politician
Current Job Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Heritage, and Culture in Kenya
Education LLM in International law from the University of Kiev, Ukraine and Postgraduate diploma in International Relations from the University of Oxford, UK.
Previous International Jobs Chair of the International Organization for Migration, chair of the World Trade Organization’s General Council, assistant secretary-General of the UN and deputy executive director at UNEP.
Previous local Jobs Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs; Cabinet Secretary for Education
Awards Knight of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity (Cav.O.S.S.I.); Life Member of the Red Cross Society; Honorary Doctorate from KCA University; Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (2017)
Selling point Experience at the highest level of the WTO
WTO Experience She ran for the office of the DG in 2013 but lost to Roberto Azevedo, the current DG
Controversy Ran against the AU candidate for the WTO top job in 2013 — both lost
Quotable quote “The best years of this organisation (WTO) are not in the past, they are in its future; there is always a golden past, but the best is never in the past”
Fun fact She speaks Somali, English, Russian, Swahili and has a working knowledge of French

Liam Fox

Country United Kingdom
Age 58
Occupation Medical doctor, politician and diplomat
Current job Member of the British Parliament since 1992
Education Studied Medicine at the University of Glasgow
Previous international jobs None
Previous local jobs Secretary of state for international trade; secretary of state for defence; general practitioner (Medical doctor); chair of the Conservative Party; parliamentary under-secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs; lord commissioner for treasury.
Current international jobs None
Awards N/A
Selling point Experience in international trade
WTO experience None
Quotable quote “Above all, trade has been the greatest liberator of the world’s poor, harnessing the forces of globalisation to spread prosperity and lift millions from poverty.”
Quick fact Fox supported Brexit, and may not get EU votes


Yoo Myung-hee

Country Korea
Age 53
Occupation Lawyer, politician
Current job Minister of trade
Education Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University Law School, and masters in public policy from Seoul National University
Previous international jobs None
Previous local jobs Presidential spokesperson; deputy minister for FTA negotiation; First Secretary (2007-2008) and then Counsellor (2009-2010), Korean Embassy in China; Director-General for Bureau of Trade Policy
Current international jobs None
Awards N/A
Selling point Experience negotiating trade at the highest level of governance in and out of the WTO
WTO experience None
Quotable quote “South Korea can become a bridge, connecting developing countries and advanced countries”
Quick fact She is regarded as the “devil’s advocate” in Korea, due to her aggressive trade negotiations, and she is the first woman to become minister of trade in Korea — after 70 years of male domination.

Abdulhameed Mamdouh

Country Egypt
Age 68
Occupation Lawyer, diplomat
Current job Senior Counsel at King & Spalding LLP
Education Juris Doctor degree at Cairo University
Previous international jobs Director of the Trade in Services and Investment Division of the WTO; secretary of the WTO Council for Trade in Services since the establishment of the WTO in 1995.
Previous local jobs Trade negotiator with the diplomatic service of Egypt
Current international jobs Visiting Professor at Queen Mary London University
Awards Lifetime Achievement Award by The Coalition of Service Industries
Selling point Experience at the highest level of the WTO
WTO experience Worked at the WTO from inception in 1995 till October 2017
Quotable quote “Successful relationships don’t only depend on the extent to which we agree, but mostly on how we deal with our differences.”
Quick fact Speaks Arabic, English and French

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Country Nigeria
Age 65
Occupation Development economist, diplomat
Current job Chair, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
Education Bachelor’s in economics from Harvard University and PhD in regional economics and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Honourary degrees from over a dozen universities worldwide.
Previous international jobs MD of the World Bank; co-chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation; UN Secretary General’s high-level panel on the post-2015 development agenda
Previous local Jobs Two-time minister of finance in Nigeria; minister of foreign affairs. The first female to take up both jobs.
Current International Jobs Board member at Twitter, Standard Chartered Bank, and African Risk Capacity; co-Chair of the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate; member Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) international advisory board; IMF external advisory board; AU special envoy.
Awards Global Finance Minister of the Year 2005 by Euromoney; Top 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2014 by TIME Magazine, 2014; Top 100 Global Thinkers 2011, 2012 by Foreign Policy; the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World by Forbes Magazine 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014; National honours from Nigeria, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire.
Selling point Experience at the highest level of the World Bank, and easily one of Africa’s most trusted technocrats
WTO Experience None
Quotable quote “The best way to help Africans today is to help them to stand on their own feet. And the best way to do that is by helping create jobs.”
Quick fact Kidnapper who held her mother captive requested her resignation as minister of finance for her role in seeking transparency with fuel subsidy payment in Nigeria. She refused.

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