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Saudi leadership spurs optimism towards it taking WTO helm

Saudi leadership spurs optimism towards it taking WTO helm

Abu Dhabi: On Wednesday Saudi Arabia put forward the credentials of Mohammed Al Tuwaijri for the position of the next director-general of WTO.

The current WTO chief Roberto Azevêdo is stepping down on August 31. Shortly after the nomination period closes, candidates will be invited to meet with members at a special WTO’s General Council meeting, present their views and take questions from the members.

Apart from Al Tuwaijri, who is an adviser at the royal court, six other candidates are so far in the running, namely from Egypt, Kenya, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria and South Korea.

Many experts, speaking to Asharq Al Awsat, relayed optimism towards Saudi Arabia’s chances of winning the seat.

Saudi Arabia, according to experts, enjoys a strong competitive edge over other countries when it comes to internal and international factors, financial and economic strength and the fact that it is main energy source and an influencer when it comes to programs backing international institutions.

More so, the Kingdom is carrying out the work of the G20 during difficult times with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and its heavy repercussions on the economy, trade and markets in the world.

Saudi Arabia has its place in the global economy and international forums, given its prominent and important role in global trade, energy production and export, and large cash flows to the within the Kingdom and abroad, economist Ibrahim Al Omar told Asharq Al Awsat.

“Indicators and factors push Saudi Arabia to qualify for the leadership of the WTO,” Al Omar added.

The new director-general of WTO will have to take up some of the thorniest issues to have struck global trade in recent times.

Hopes for improving the global trade environment are diminishing against challenges of increasing protectionism, self-sufficiency, increasing fees and taxes on the movement of goods and services, and the emergence of strong international conflicts.

Economist Abdurrahman Baashan, head of Ashrouq Center for Economic Studies, said that the Kingdom’s capabilities have been displayed across several fields, especially through its leadership of the G20 group during difficult times.

He added that Saudi Arabia is still leading the G20 with professionalism in terms of solutions and recommendations to save the international economy.

Baashan said that the Kingdom’s high economic position also makes it worthy to lead the WTO with wisdom and strength that enable it to face challenges.