Africa's WTO nominee seeks conclusion of trade talks

2013-01-26 14:59:36 GMT2013-01-26 22:59:36(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

ADDIS ABABA. Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- One of Africa's nominees to the position of the Director General of the World Trade Organization will prioritize completion of the world trade talks if selected to the position.

Amina Mohammed, a Kenyan career diplomat, said the conclusion of the Doha round of trade talks will open new opportunities to grow world trade and create more wealth.

'If the talks are completed, we will have a balanced global trading regime that will provide an expanded market for goods and services," said Mohamed in an interview with Xinhua at the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia. The other Africa nominee is John Alan Kyeremanten, a Ghanaian diplomat and former presidential candidate.

Mohamed is in Ethiopia to attend the 20th African Union Summit and take the opportunity to lobby more countries even those outside the continent to support her bid. If she wins, she will become not only the first African but also the first woman to head the influential global trading body.

Global trade negotiations popularly referred to as the Doha Development Agenda started in 2001 but have stalled over the years because of disagreements on issues relating to many issues including trade in agriculture, services, and industrial goods and on non-tariff barriers.

The delay in concluding the talks has also delayed the intention of those talks, which was to lower international trading barriers to increase trade.

Mohamed said she is hopeful that an African will lead the global organization to offer leadership in streamlining the global trade.

"Both of the African candidates are highly qualified. Personally, I have a lot of experience at the trade diplomatic front gathered when I worked as Kenya's permanent representative to Geneva for six years," she said.

She also participated in the global trade negotiations as is credited with leadership that resulted in a waiver on intellectual property rules that allowed the Third World Countries to manufacture generic medicine for HIV/AIDS.

"The time has come now for Africa to take its place at the global table, not just as a continent that comes to ask for assistance but a continent that will offer solutions to global challenges," she said.

Mohamed said contrary to the popular believe, Africa does not have low trade negotiations capability because the continent already achieved many deals under the WTO. "How were we able to get a waiver that allowed manufacture of generic HIV/AIDS? The issue is about give and take," she said.

If elected, she will assume office in September this year replacing the current Director General Pascal Lamy.

Mohamed is currently the United Nations Assistant Secretary- General and deputy executive director of the United Nations Environmental Program.

Other contenders for the WTO position are Anabel Gonzalez (Costa Rica), Mari Elka Pangestu (Indonesia), Tim Groser (New Zealand), Ahmad Thougan Hidawi (Jordan), Herminio Blanco (Mexico), Taeho Bark (South Korea) and Roberto Carvalho de Azevedo (Brazil).

According to WTO procedures for appointment of director-general, nomination will be followed by a formal General Council meeting on Jan. 30, 2013 where candidates will present themselves to the membership.

The selection process will conclude with a decision by the General Council no later than May 31, 2013. The candidate with the least support among WTO's 157 members will be asked to withdraw until a winner emerges.

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