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After WHO, It Was The WTO's Turn To Fight The US-China Dispute

f elected, Amina Mohamed of Kenya, left, will become the first woman and the first African to lead the World Trade Organization. But she could face challenges from Tim Groser, the middle, and Phil Hogan of Ireland. (Image source of R

The US-China dispute has spread to the race to become the next director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Monday 8/June.

Beijing is said to support Amina Mohamed, a former foreign minister from Kenya, where China has invested heavily.
Meanwhile, the US seems to support Tim Groser, the former New Zealand Trade Minister, who is likely to promote trade-agency reform that Washington has supported.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo abruptly announced his resignation last month, introducing a selection process that began on Monday.

Mohamed, who has won praise for consensus-building skills, will be the first woman as well as the first African to serve at the top of the WTO. Her negotiating skills were shown when she chaired a ministerial meeting in 2015.

Through banks and state-owned enterprises, China has invested heavily in various infrastructure and resource development projects in Kenya and other African countries. In the WTO, Beijing has considered itself a representative country for developing countries.

Some observers argue that Beijing believes that promising trade rules that favor developing countries will win their favor over the preferred candidate.

Meanwhile, Groser, who also served as ambassador to the US and expressed strong concern about China's rise, is more suited to the United States. If Groser wins support from the United States for the job, he could push for reform on Washington's agenda.

Up to now, WTO has experienced 6 generations of general director. The last four alternate between candidates from developing and developing countries. Since Mr. Azevedo is from Brazil, it is very likely that the next leader will come from a developed country.

Groser will fit that model. But the European Union clearly has another candidate in mind due to the bloc's dislike for the US-proposed WTO reforms.

There was an attempt to nominate EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan for the job. Media reports from Ireland, Hogan's hometown, say that he is interested in the job.

The WTO has been called a free trade defender, but its agency's dispute settlement system has been paralyzed since the US blocked the appointment of appellate judges.

Trade negotiations The Doha Round has also stalled, leaving the WTO unable to address issues related to the digital economy and other next-generation trends.

Battered by the trade war with the United States, China sees this as a necessity to strengthen the WTO and endeavor to gain the support of an international body for its claims.

Although US President Donald Trump has backed bilateral trade deals, the White House cannot ignore the multilateral framework and therefore cannot allow China to expand its influence in WHO.

Such a tug of war between two economic powers has emerged in another global institution. When the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization sought to nominate a new director general in March, the United States drummed the majority support to prevent the selection of a Chinese candidate.

President Trump has said he will withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization, accusing General Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of favoring China.

That decision came after WHO refused to grant observer status to Taiwan at the World Health Conference in May, in line with China's wishes.


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