Saudi Arabia has nominated Mohammad al-Tuwaijri, the Kingdom’s former Minister of Economy and Planning, to become the next director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The WTO post will become vacant at the end of August after incumbent Roberto Azevedo said he would leave the position a year early.
Al-Tuwaijri was Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Economy and Planning between 2016 and 2020, where he oversaw part of Kingdom’s ambitious economic transformation plan.
Al-Tuwaijri obtained a master’s degree with honors in Business Administration from King Saud University in 1998 and went on to hold several leadership roles during his career.
He was also a member in the Kingdom’s Council of Ministers and the Council of Economic and Development Affairs from 2017 to 2020. He then assumed the position of Deputy Minister of Economy and Planning as well as the Secretary-General of the Finance Committee at the Royal Court from 2016 to 2017. He also held the role of Vice Chairman the Kingdom’s National Development Fund, chaired by the National Transformation Program.
The process for appointing the next director-general formally began on June 8, lasting until today, July 8. During that period, all WTO members could nominate a candidate for the role.
After July 8, all candidates are then invited to meet with WTO members. After which, rather than an election, members will carry out a process of elimination of the nominees.
The next WTO chief will likely have to grapple with renewed trade tensions between US and China, and rising protectionism, a dynamic that the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated. Other topics on the agenda expected are new rules regarding e-commerce, and limiting overfishing.
The WTO has broadly been struggling to mandate any multilateral agreements since the trade conflict began between China and the US, with the US administration in particular openly hostile to the organization at times.