President Uhuru Kenyatta Thursday endorsed the candidature of Amina Mohamed to head the World Trade Organisation, indicating she “understands” the global trade rule-making agency.
In the first formal pitch since the Sports minister announced her candidature on Tuesday, President Kenyatta said she is the best bet to reform the organisation, which has been in existence for the past 25 years.
“Kenya offers Amina Mohamed, a uniquely qualified person, to lead the WTO at this critical time. If selected, she would be the first African and indeed, the first woman to serve at the helm of the World Trade Organisation,” the President said in Nairobi.
“Minister Mohamed understands the WTO, understands its processes, having chaired all its high-level decision-making bodies. For example, the Ministerial Conference, General Council, Dispute Settlement Body as well as the Trade Policy Review Body.”
Ms Mohamed, a veteran diplomat who served previously as Foreign Cabinet Secretary and later as Education minister, is one of the three latest entrants in the race to become the next director-general of WTO.
She is the current Sports CS and her declaration means she will fight it out with seven other candidates, including two from the Africa bloc, to secure the seat that eluded her seven years ago.
The contestants include former UK Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox, ex-Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Egyptian commercial law academic Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh, and Mr Jesús Seade Kuri of Mexico. Others are Moldova’s Tudor Ulianovschi, Saudi Arabia’s former Economy minister Mohammad Mazia al-Tualjri and Ms Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea.
Ms Mohamed had contested the seat in 2013 but lost out on a decision made by consensus among member states to appoint Brazilian Robert Azevêdo, whose term ends next month.
The Director-General of the WTO is appointed through consensus, meaning candidates will have to do lots of horse-trading ahead of the decision on August 31. The WTO is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and decisions on cases brought before it are often final, even though it is not a UN agency.