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WTO chief candidate urges quick decision on next leader amid 'deep crisis'

GenevaCandidates to lead the World Trade Organization urged members to reach a decision quickly on Wednesday and address what one described as a "deep crisis" as it began the vetting process.

Nominations from eight countries have been submitted, including three women, three African candidates and a former Saudi air force pilot, to replace Brazil's Roberto Azevedo, who will step down a year early at the end of August. His successor faces an unprecedented set of challenges such as intensifying global trade tensions, rising protectionism as well as a coronavirus-induced dive in global trade.

"So, you have crisis in the WTO, a ministerial conference happening after four years, change of Director General. So, for all those reasons, I think this needs to be done as quickly as possible. And if I could decide, I would say 'please members, decide by this weekend'. Because we need all the time to work towards the next ministerial and not to think of the United States elections. Whatever it is, we will work with that, it is a very important member, we will work with them." said Jesus Seade, a senior trade official in Mexico, describing the trade watchdog as being in "deep crisis".
Seade also rebuffed a suggestion that a final decision on the next chief should be delayed until after the U.S. presidential election in November.Under U.S. President Donald Trump, Washington has urged reform of the WTO and blocked appointments to its top court.

Nigeria's candidate, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, also said "We need an institution that can promote a rules-based system. 'Remember the trade wars', I would say to him - of the past, we don't want that. We want peace and security and stability. That is why the WTO is needed, with its ability to arbitrate dispute within members. So, 'Don't leave now. Let's try to fix what need fixing and if we didn't have the WTO we would have to invent it', that is what I would say to him (U.S. President Trump)."

Egyptian Candidate to head the WTO Hamid Mahdouh saying "The bilateral tensions between the U.S. and China in my view, should be resolved in the WTO. The WTO should be seen as part of the solution, not part of the problem. And also we have to keep in mind that since we all believe in the multilateral system, and I believe that the U.S. does believe in the multilateral system, as well as China, then, we also have to keep in mind that bilateral tensions do not only have bilateral effects. And bilateral solutions would have ramifications for other as well."

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