As the contest for the next chief of the WTO gathers momentum several commentaries on the vision, goals and strategies of the potential contenders are hitting the shelves. Vox EU recently carried a piece on the importance of the context to multilateralism. Bernard Hoekman and Petros Mavroidis called for paying more attention to the contest since, according to them it, had great significance to the future of the trading system.
"The Director-General of the WTO does not have a magic wand that can be used to remove the fundamental constraints and factors that have impeded the successful conclusion of an ambitious Doha Round outcome. But he or she does have a critical role to play in helping the membership to identify and pursue options that will promote growth in ways that do not undermine the multilateral trading system."Commenting on the importance of the "crown jewel" of the multilateral trading system - the dispute settlement process they had this to say:
"It is little known outside trade circles but it has become the busiest state-to-state international court extant, with WTO members having brought over 450 cases since the WTO was created in 1995. These dimensions of the WTO tend to be neglected in terms of public attention but they are critically important in maintaining international cooperation on trade matters and providing traders with the certainty they need to invest and engage in international trade."
This commentary has been followed up by a brilliant e-book by the above authors on the positions and views of 7 of the 9 candidates. The IELP blog commented on it here.
One distinguishing feature of the selection process of the WTO as compared to perhaps other international institutions is the transparency of the process in terms of the candidature, their positions and selection procedure. Though the ultimate selection may hinge on many factors, the public discussion and debate in international circles as compared to a closed room selection process is a positive sign for the multilateral institution.