World Trade Organisation (WTO) chief Roberto Azevedo's decision to leave his position at the end of next month, a year ahead of what would have been the normal end of his tenure, has thrown up the challenge of finding a successor at the global trade body at what is a fraught period for globalisation, the free flow of trade and respect for international law - all of which has been further complicated by the raging coronavirus pandemic. The next director-general has the unenviable task of reviving the stalled global trade talks known as the Doha Round, treading delicate diplomatic ground with Washington which threatens to leave, and preparing for next year's important ministerial conference, a high point of its agenda.
When nominations closed last week, seven candidates were in the running to succeed the Brazilian diplomat. They include candidates from Egypt, Mexico, Moldova and Nigeria, as well as three whose bids will likely get more attention in Asia - South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, Britain's former international trade secretary Liam Fox and ex-WTO general council chair Amina Mohamed of Kenya. Interestingly, three candidates are women and three are African, and all candidates have a measure of working with multilateral bodies.