World Trade Organization: How an African head could make a difference


With three of those eight Candidates to become the next leader of the World Trade Organization (WTO) coming from Africa, BBC Africa company editor Zawadi Mudibo looks at what difference having one of them at the helm would result in the continent.


There’s a growing feeling among African diplomats that somebody In the continent should be at the helm of one of the world’s top economic associations Has always been at the head of the International Monetary Fund, an African hasn’t taken an equal position.

Mohamed or Egypt’s Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh emerges from the long selection process since the WTO’s following director-general the continent may feel it is playing in the same league as the rest of the world.


The WTO sets the It is also, according to its site, supposed to”open commerce for the benefit of all”.

The Geneva-based Organisation’s capability to get global agreements of basic principles which each and every nation signs up to have been hamstrung in recent years but the WTO leader has influence and a bully pulpit. The director-general attends G7 and G20 assembly and can broker disputes involving world leaders.

But is there much more to Be obtained for the continent apart from the diplomatic profile?

World Trade Organization: How an African head could make a difference

‘Trade not aid’


Though the Director-general’s function is primarily one of an administrator African American leader might help make sure the interests of the continent have been taken into consideration in WTO actions.

Trade talks Might Appear esoteric and occur behind closed Doorways, but their result can affect everybody’s lives.

From the small trader who crosses a boundary Many times a month To the consumer purchasing an imported item in a current market, to someone having a job in a production industry: they’re all affected by the rules of commerce.


In Africa, commerce is Regarded as a catalyst for growth, away towards Sustainable growth, and as an instrument for poverty eradication.


Foreign aid will not Do it for Africa. Like everywhere else throughout history it’s commerce,” says David Luke, head of the trade policy center at the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa.

“So ordinary Africans will realize an African going the WTO shows we are serious about commerce.”

World Trade Organization: How an African head could make a difference

Africa-wide free-trade place

The former finance minister told the BBC it was the normal African she had been most concerned with.

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She stated that she wanted to”figure out ways to get women and youth, who are behind these engines of growth in Africa, to gain more from world trade”.

She was also eager to Ensure the continent moves away from exporting raw materials and rather”adds value to the goods or products we create for the global market.

“For Example, We import 94% of pharmaceuticals around the continent while we could produce these locally in Africa.”

World Trade Organization: How an African head could make a difference

Ms. Mohamed, who has served as both foreign and trade ministry in Kenya, told the BBC that she can bring a”new perspective” that was”wide [and] inclusive” to the job.

But she did not want To be judged” as an African leader or a female leader but as an experienced leader [and] a consensus builder”.

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On His part, Mr. Mamdouh, who has been negotiating on behalf of Egypt in the WTO as 1985, said his vast experience in the trade will let him observe how it can enable the continent further.

“My agenda for Africa is to integrate Africans more Into the trading system,” he said.

“I’ll also call upon political leaders in African Nations to pay particular attention to their own trade policies”

But implicit in this answer is that though the WTO’s Director-general can lobby presidents, they cannot force them to act in a particular way.

World Trade Organization: How an African head could make a difference

The total list of candidates for WTO

· Liam Fox – UK

· Jesús Seade Kuri – Mexico

· Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh – Egypt

· Amina Mohamed – Kenya

· Yoo Myung-hee – South Korea

· Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – Nigeria

· Tudor Ulianovschi – Moldova

Nevertheless, when it comes to helping realize Africa’s big Trade policy – the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) – the WTO head could play a role.

The arrangement, the implementation of which was postponed by Coronavirus, expects to establish that the world’s largest free-trade area.


“This will guarantee more high-quality goods out of the Continent, therefore, putting more money in people’s pockets and helping to eradicate chronic poverty,” trade specialist Mr. Luke stated.


The principles and goals Of those AfCTA are harmonious with those of the WTO, along with an African leader of the trade body that could help direct it towards greater aid for the continent. That may be in offering technical help, commerce analysis, and policy experience, turning the dream of free trade across Africa into reality.

But just as Africa Is now moving towards a freer trading environment, the rhetoric of protectionism in different parts of the world seems to be on the upswing.

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Mediating US-China trade row


The trade war Restrictions imposed due to coronavirus also have influenced the free movement of products.


Furthermore, That the US’ refusal to accept appointments or re-appointments into the WTO body which hears appeals against the organization’s decisions has thrown this key part of the transaction body into crisis. Additionally, it threatens to undermine the WTO as a whole.

World Trade Organization: How an African head could make a difference

Its effectiveness in establishing new ground rules that all Nations can agree on has also been challenged. In 2001, the WTO established the so-called Doha round of discussions, which was supposed to draw up new arrangements to help developing countries.

However, the negotiations failed and were essentially killed off more Than a decade afterward.


This is the context in which the next leader of the organization Will takes office in November.

Be on a shore up the WTO and restore faith in the organization.

It Will Have to be a determining figure regardless of where they are from. If one of the three Africans succeeds in the race to become WTO boss Then attempts to assist the continent could creator if he or she neglects to fortify The organization.


What do you think about this update?