WTO: Final Eight Candidate


The nomination process for the office of the director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has finally closed, and all the candidates for the WTO top job are now known.

There are eight candidates in the race; three from Africa, two from Europe, one from the Middle-East, one from North America, and one from Asia.

In the race are three women — Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Amina Mohammed and Yoo Myung-hee — and four men. If any of the women win, she would become the first female WTO DG since the organisation was set up 25 years ago.

Noble Reporters Media reviewed the biography of all seven candidates and here is how they stand:


Jesús Seade Kuri
OccupationChemical Engineer, economist, diplomat, politician
Current jobUndersecretary for North America in Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs
EducationChemical Engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM); master and PhD in economics from the University of Oxford
Previous international jobsWorld Bank chief economist; founding deputy director-general of the World Trade Organization; senior advisor at the IMF; vice-president of Lingnan University in Hong Kong
Previous local jobsNorth American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiator for Mexico
Current international jobsProfessor of Economics at Lingnan University in Hong Kong
Selling pointExperience in the creation of WTO and at its highest level of governance
WTO experienceWorked at the WTO from inception till October 1998
Quotable quote“Digital trade is an opportunity to expand availability, choice and lower the price.”
Quick factSpeaks all official languages of the WTO — English, Spanish and French


Tudor Ulianovschi
OccupationPolitician, diplomat
Current jobSenior Vice President at Grasshopper Energy
EducationA Ph.D. candidate at the Free International University of Moldova
Previous international jobsPermanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva; President of the Trade and Development Board at UNCTAD, Vice President of the General Assembly at WIPO, President of the Steering Committee on Trade at UNECE.
Previous local jobsForeign minister of Moldova; Moldovan Ambassador to Liechtenstein and Switzerland;
Current international jobsNone
AwardsMoldova distinguished personality of the year – 2018 by VIP Magazin; Man of the Year 2019 by Aquarelle media
Selling pointExperience at the highest level of the WTO
WTO experienceChair of the Balance of Payments Committee of the WTO; Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization
Quotable quote“No one should be left behind; this is not just a simple phrase, it is important to have an inclusive approach.”
Quick factThe diplomat who speaks English, Russian, French,  Arabic and Romanian has 15 years of experience in diplomacy and international trade


Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri
OccupationPilot, banker, politician
Current jobRoyal Court advisor in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
EducationB.Sc Aeronautics at King Faisal Air Force Academy, MBA from King Saud University
Previous international jobsGroup managing director, deputy chairman and CEO at HSBC, UAE.
Previous local jobsFormer minister of economy and planning; managing director and CEO of JP Morgan, Saudi Arabia; head of risk management, Saudi British Bank.
Current international jobsNone
Selling pointRepresenting a large bloc — middle east and north africa
WTO experienceNone
Quotable quoteN/A
Quick factIf he wins, he would be the first WTO DG from an Arab nation


Amina Mohamed Jibril
OccupationLawyer, diplomat, and politician
Current JobCabinet Secretary for Sports, Heritage, and Culture in Kenya
EducationLLM in International law from the University of Kiev, Ukraine and Postgraduate diploma in International Relations from the University of Oxford, UK.
Previous International JobsChair of the International Organization for Migration, chair of the World Trade Organization’s General Council, assistant secretary-General of the UN and deputy executive director at UNEP.
Previous local JobsCabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs; Cabinet Secretary for Education
AwardsKnight of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity (Cav.O.S.S.I.); Life Member of the Red Cross Society; Honorary Doctorate from KCA University; Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (2017)
Selling pointExperience at the highest level of the WTO
WTO ExperienceShe ran for the office of the DG in 2013 but lost to Roberto Azevedo, the current DG
ControversyRan against the AU candidate for the WTO top job in 2013 — both lost
Quotable quote“The best years of this organisation (WTO) are not in the past, they are in its future; there is always a golden past, but the best is never in the past”
Fun factShe speaks Somali, English, Russian, Swahili and has a working knowledge of French


Liam Fox
OccupationMedical doctor, politician and diplomat
Current jobMember of the British Parliament since 1992
EducationStudied Medicine at the University of Glasgow
Previous international jobsNone
Previous local jobsSecretary of state for international trade; secretary of state for defence; general practitioner (Medical doctor); chair of the Conservative Party; parliamentary under-secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs; lord commissioner for treasury.
Current international jobsNone
Selling pointExperience in international trade
WTO experienceNone
Quotable quote“Above all, trade has been the greatest liberator of the world’s poor, harnessing the forces of globalisation to spread prosperity and lift millions from poverty.”
Quick factFox supported Brexit, and may not get EU votes


Yoo Myung-Hee
OccupationLawyer, politician
Current jobMinister of trade
EducationJuris Doctor from Vanderbilt University Law School, and masters in public policy from Seoul National University
Previous international jobsNone
Previous local jobsPresidential spokesperson; deputy minister for FTA negotiation; First Secretary (2007-2008) and then Counsellor (2009-2010), Korean Embassy in China; Director-General for Bureau of Trade Policy
Current international jobsNone
Selling pointExperience negotiating trade at the highest level of governance in and out of the WTO
WTO experienceNone
Quotable quote“South Korea can become a bridge, connecting developing countries and advanced countries”
Quick factShe is regarded as the “devil’s advocate” in Korea, due to her aggressive trade negotiations, and she is the first woman to become minister of trade in Korea — after 70 years of male domination.


Abdulhameed Mamdouh
OccupationLawyer, diplomat
Current jobSenior Counsel at King & Spalding LLP
EducationJuris Doctor degree at Cairo University
Previous international jobsDirector of the Trade in Services and Investment Division of the WTO; secretary of the WTO Council for Trade in Services since the establishment of the WTO in 1995.
Previous local jobsTrade negotiator with the diplomatic service of Egypt
Current international jobsVisiting Professor at Queen Mary London University
AwardsLifetime Achievement Award by The Coalition of Service Industries
Selling pointExperience at the highest level of the WTO
WTO experienceWorked at the WTO from inception in 1995 till October 2017
Quotable quote“Successful relationships don’t only depend on the extent to which we agree, but mostly on how we deal with our differences.”
Quick factSpeaks Arabic, English and French


Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
OccupationDevelopment economist, diplomat
Current jobChair, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
EducationBachelor’s in economics from Harvard University and PhD in regional economics and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Honourary degrees from over a dozen universities worldwide.
Previous international jobsMD of the World Bank; co-chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation; UN Secretary General’s high-level panel on the post-2015 development agenda
Previous local JobsTwo-time minister of finance in Nigeria; minister of foreign affairs. The first female to take up both jobs.
Current International JobsBoard member at Twitter, Standard Chartered Bank, and African Risk Capacity; co-Chair of the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate; member Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) international advisory board; IMF external advisory board; AU special envoy.
AwardsGlobal Finance Minister of the Year 2005 by Euromoney; Top 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2014 by TIME Magazine, 2014; Top 100 Global Thinkers 2011, 2012 by Foreign Policy; the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World by Forbes Magazine 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014; National honours from Nigeria, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire.
Selling pointExperience at the highest level of the World Bank, and easily one of Africa’s most trusted technocrats
WTO ExperienceNone
Quotable quote“The best way to help Africans today is to help them to stand on their own feet. And the best way to do that is by helping create jobs.”
Quick factKidnapper who held her mother captive requested her resignation as minister of finance for her role in seeking transparency with fuel subsidy payment in Nigeria. She refused.