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Mexican nominee to WTO top job pledges to prioritise Africa

Dr. Jesús Seade Kuri Dr. Jesús Seade Kuri

Wed, 16 Sep 2020 Source: Business 24

A former Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Mexico’s nominee for the top position of the global trade institution, Dr. Jesús Seade Kuri, has promised to put Africa at the center stage of his leadership should he be voted to lead the organisation.

Dr. Kuri, in an exclusive op-ed published in the Business24, did not only recount his long experience working in various capacities in multilateral agencies serving the needs of the continent, but promised to ensure the selection of his deputy from Africa, preferably a female.

“I will make every effort to ensure Africa has a (possibly female) DDG, so that we have not one but two senior officers who are familiar with Africa at the top of the organisation,” he said.

The Mexican nominee is part of an eminent list of eight persons vying for the position of the Director-General of the WTO, which was left vacant by the retiring Roberto Azevêdo last month. The list includes two nominees from Africa, Nigeria’s Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Kenya’s Ms. Amina C. Mohamed.

The time frame for the election is yet to be decided, but the WTO head is chosen by consensus by its 164 member states, based on a recommendation from its selection committee.

The winning candidate faces a myriad of problems, chief among them the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, with countries seeking to protect their industries more than opting for free trade.

Dr. Kuri, who was a founding Deputy Director-General (DDG) of the organisation, said his chosen African deputy will lead on development, an area that will be given the prominent role it deserves in the organisation, with particular attention to the issues of interest to the Least Developed Countries.

“Also, I fully commit to lead a change of culture so that at all levels in the Secretariat and in the work programme, we advance the geographic and gender inclusiveness of the organisation while engaging more fully with anglophone, francophone and lusophone Africa.”

Working in Africa

According to Dr. Kuri, his first stint outside academia was at the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and WTO, where he did extensive work in DR. Congo and Morocco.

He wrote that, in each of those positions, he elected to continue to work on and for Africa, leading over twenty visits to more than a dozen countries in all the language regions of the continent, and delivering financial support or technical assistance in a wide range of issue areas—from trade policy and customs management through tax reform and budget systems.

“Fully taken by the wonder of Africa, the scale of its problems, the freshness of its people, and the beauty of its music and art, I worked with and befriended many people, including Ministers, their staff, as well as foreign experts and donors. This gave me a deep insight into the different countries’ economies, politics, cultures, and societies,” he said.

Source: Business 24

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