Al-Tuwaijri arrives in Geneva as selection process for new WTO chief to begin Wednesday

File photo of Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri.
File photo of Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri.

Saudi Gazette report

Saudi Arabia’s nominee for the post of director-general at the World Trade Organization Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri arrived in Geneva on Tuesday as a three-day-long selection process for the new WTO chief gets underway on Wednesday.

Al-Tuwaijri, who served as the Kingdom’s minister of economy and planning from November 2017 till March 2020, is among eight candidates who are vying to replace the current WTO chief, Roberto Azevedo, who decided to leave his post at the end of August, a year before the end of his second term.

Al-Tuwaijri is scheduled to participate in the meetings of the General Council of the WTO, and will present his vision and program for the organization to the delegates of member states and answer their questions next Friday, along with the rest of the candidates.

The other seven candidates in the fray for top WTO post are from Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Britain, Mexico, Moldova and South Korea.

The new director-general faces a range of challenges, most notably the revitalization of the frozen trade talks, the preparation for the 2021 ministerial conference, which is among the most important events organized by the WTO, and the improvement of relations with the United States led by President Donald Trump.

The new chief will also face several challenges and developments in the organization, such as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The priorities of the new WTO chief will be to rebuild the trust and credibility of the organization, to reactivate its negotiating agenda that has reached a dead end, and to develop a dispute settlement system.

On July 7, Saudi Arabia announced the nomination of Al-Tuwaijri. In its memorandum to the organization, the Kingdom's delegation to the WTO affirmed the great belief of the Kingdom in the multilateral trading system and the vital role of the organization, stressing the importance of a strong system that enhances openness based on the rules of the multilateral trading system.

Al-Tuwaijiri, a trained business administration, banker and economic expert, has held the portfolio of the economy and planning in the Kingdom, in addition to other previous public and private leading posts, nationally as well as internationally.