Thursday, January 24, 2013

Race for the WTO DG's position

The race for the post of the WTO's DG position is all set for a close finish with 9 candidates in the fray. I have blogged about it here and here. The IELP blog had this detailed post on the implications of the race for the future of the WTO here. The Washington Post has summarized the race as a "worldwide scramble" for the post here. Indonesia's candidate's potential was highlighted in this post.The China Daily had this view on the issue.The coming months will see increased statements and posturing by the candidates on the future of the WTO, multilateral trade and the fate of Doha. Some highlights of the agenda that the discourse is taking is here:

The Mexican candidate as per this report "has pledged to "fight protectionism" amid the global economic downturn and promised efforts in concrete terms and in every sense to protect the free flow of goods in international trade".

The Brazilian candidate focussed on the Doha round when he remarked that "The impasse in Doha Round negotiations has resulted in serious and concrete differences among the member states. “Therefore, it’s fundamental that the future director general be able to move easily among the different groups of countries, regardless of their level of development, without imposing views on anyone and trying to forge all possible consensuses.”

Talking about the WTO, the Kenyan candidate, as per this report, has stated that “There is a need to protect it from the onslaught of protectionist measures that have and may be introduced and to take stock of what has happened with” the Doha Round of talks that seeks to cut farm aid and crack open markets."

Candidates seem to be espousing the virtues of free trade, less tree barriers, free flow of goods and the dangers of protectionism. The revival of the Doha round too seems to be on the agenda of a few. How critical is the Doha round to the future of the WTO itself? How critical is the choice of the next WTO chief critical to the institution of the WTO itself? A succinct analysis of the issues involved and the questions at stake is provided  from the Law offices of Stewart and Stewart which concluded:
"The direction of the WTO is only partially driven by the selection of the Director-General. Nonetheless, at the present time, it is fair to say that the choice of the Director-General can make a difference in the trajectory of change the organization will undergo over the next four years."
We will see more debate and discussion on the issues of protectionism, multilateral negotiations and the future role of the WTO in the submissions made by the various candidates canvassing for the top position. Some lessons for the future may be culled out from this discourse.

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