A former Minister of Trade, Industry and President’s Special Initiatives, John Alan Kwadwo Kyeremanten, has lost out in his quest to become the next World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General.
This was after he failed to sail through the first round of the selection process for the top job at the World Trade Organization.
According to Reuters, the council has shortlisted candidates Roberto Azevedo from Brazil, Taeho Bark of South Korea, Herminio Blanco from Mexico, Mari Pangestu of Indonesia and Tim Groser of New Zealand.
President John Mahama is said to have lobbied for Alan Kyerematen with African leaders for the WTO top job; but virtually did nothing at the world level, making it difficult for Alan to get the needed push.
President Mahama’s push was seen as cosmetic, since he could not even get the support of all African leaders with a candidate, Amina Mohamed, coming from Kenya. Amina Mohammed has also been dropped.
The Reuters News Agency quotes a diplomatic source as saying that representatives of the candidates were summoned to hear the results of the first round at a closed-door meeting in the WTO’s Geneva headquarters Thursday.
The Organisation was expected to officially announce its results later yesterday. The field of candidates to lead the World Trade Organization shrank to five and narrowed the race to two regions, triggering a potential scramble for Africa’s support after the first of three rounds of competition.
The “troika” of three WTO ambassadors presiding over the race plan to make the results public on Friday, and give a timetable for the second round, which is expected to boil the field down to a final duel, whose winner will succeed Pascal Lamy as head of the WTO on Sept 1, this year.
Some trade diplomats say the job is a poisoned chalice because it comes with little power to direct the WTO, a body that is run by consensus decisions of its 159 members and which is presiding over a huge slowdown in world trade and struggling to negotiate reforms in global trade rules.
However, the position is coveted because the WTO’s unusual system of treaty-based rules and dispute settlement makes it an arbiter among nations and an influential world body alongside the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
Geneva-based diplomats have said the nine-strong race made it impossible to predict the eventual winner, especially since many governments are thought to favour candidates from particular regions.
Before the six-month process began in earnest in December, some diplomats maintained that the next head of the organisation must come from Africa or Latin America. Pascal Lamy rejected that idea, saying there was no geographical basis for the choice.
But the departure of Kenya’s Amina Mohamed and Ghana’s Alan Kyerematen means that African support is likely to become an important battleground for the remaining candidates.
The exit of Costa Rica’s Anabel Gonzalez means the two remaining Latin Americans will have to struggle for supremacy, since it is unlikely that both will survive into the final round.
The other candidate to be dropped, Jordan’s Ahmed Hindawi, was the first candidate from an Arab nation in the WTO’s 18-year history.
The draw may now favour Pangestu, who would be the first woman to lead the WTO, and Groser, who survived despite the fact that a New Zealander has held the job once before, something that was seen as counting against him.
But the WTO’s insistence on consensus means that any one member’s strong dislike can essentially be used as a veto, leaving the final outcome uncertain