Two qualities are needed from the World Trade Organisation’s-WTO+ next Director-General to save the global trade body from a demise that was caused by a series of failures and mounting external threats, says Abdel-Hamid Mamdouh, a former Egyptian diplomat in the running to lead the Geneva-based organisation.
One is “authoritative knowledge” and the second is “confidence and trust”. Contrary to the eight other candidates running for the top job, Mamdouh believes his experience working in a variety of positions within the WTO for 20-years grants him the unique ability to combine the two key attributes. In terms of institutional knowledge, his role as secretary of the Council for Trade in Services until 2001 and then head of Services and Investment Division until 2017 has led to a granular understanding of the organisation and its problems.
Promising not to repeat the same mistakes, Mamdouh believes the difference between the ‘Doha Round’ and the successful ‘Uruguay Round’, which led to the creation of the WTO in 1995, was the lack of strategic balance that kept the latter moving forward. In terms of balance, the Geneva-based diplomat believes he has the edge over other candidates due to his history representing a multilateral organisation rather than an individual country.