Saudi neutrality can connect the world, says candidate for WTO DG

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Saudi Arabia's nominee for the post of World Trade Organization's director-general, Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri.
Saudi Arabia's nominee for the post of World Trade Organization's director-general, Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri.



by Anas Alyusuf

Saudi Gazette report

GENEVA —
Saudi Arabia's nominee for the post of World Trade Organization's director-general, Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri, said that the Kingdom's neutrality could help connect the world.

"The geographic location of the Kingdom is ideal, and throughout our history we've always been connecting the east and west. This is in our DNA, and we have demonstrated that over decades of trade.

“Through trade we have been bringing peace by being always this neutral player in the global economy all the time," Al-Tuwaijri told the Geneva Press Club on Wednesday.

"One of our targets, as I said, is to connect Europe, Asia, and Africa," he added.

"The Kingdom's connectivity as the heart of the Islamic and Arabic world is something we're very keen to develop while also displaying our neutrality when it comes to the US and China," he added.

"US and China both are close partners to Saudi Arabia, as is Europe. I also think that the Kingdom's neutrality in its relationship with the rest of the world is a pillar that will evoke support for the Saudi candidate."

Al-Tuwaijri said: "The next WTO Director-General should be a disruptor, someone who has not built his career within the world of international organizations, but who looks at the WTO with a fresh pair of eyes, who has been a WTO stakeholder rather than a shareholder."

Outlining his vision for the WTO, Al-Tuwaijri emphasized his commitment to building trust, bringing all members to the negotiating table, and taking an evidence-based approach to reform. “Multilateralism isn't perfect, but there's no better alternative."

"Every sign I have in my mind tells me that things may get worse before it gets better," he said, adding, "That's why I opened my statement by saying the awareness of the global economy and its difficulties is a top priority to be a reformer."

On his personal motivation, Al-Tuwaijri said: "I am very lucky and privileged person. I've made all my dreams come true. I love my family, I love humanity and I am self-motivated, but every job I landed in my life was difficult and challenging, requiring a lot of ability to perform and stick to discipline."

"So I raise my hand for this job because I think the opportunity is real, the upside is possible, and the hope is still there," Al-Tuwaijri asserted.

"I think making a difference to the global community and bringing back multilateralism into the dialogue and make that impact long term is significant for all of us," Al-Tuwaijri added.

"I like to be part of the solution all the time, so I think here the organization needs this mix of personal skill and motivation."

"What I like to have is in a few years for someone to say thank you to the next director-general, for here's an organization that is more fit for purpose, more dynamic. I can understand the issues and we have ways to resolve them," Al-Tuwaijri said.

Al-Tuwaijri is one of eight candidates in the running to replace Roberto Azevedo. The Brazilian career diplomat quit the helm of WTO at the end of August, a year before his second term was due to expire.

The field will get whittled to five when three candidates will drop off on Friday as WTO member states narrow down the field.


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