GENEVA: The World Trade Organization has ground to a halt and needs a pragmatic new director-general to drive through reforms, the Saudi candidate for the job said on Wednesday.
Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri, 53, said the WTO, which was founded in 1995, was due a shake-up.
“Twenty-five years; in my mind, every organisation in the world — regardless of the external environment, which is severe in our case — must have the fresh restart,” he told the Geneva Press Club.
Al-Tuwaijri is one of eight candidates in the running to replace Roberto Azevedo. The Brazilian career diplomat quit the WTO helm at the end of August, a year before his second term was due to expire.
Three candidates will get the chop on Friday as WTO member states narrow down the field.
A former air force pilot who flew more than 30 Gulf War missions, Al-Tuwaijri was a banker who ran JPMorgan’s fledgling Saudi Arabia operations before joining HSBC.
The former Saudi economy minister currently advises the Kingdom’s royal court on economic strategy.
The WTO is in paralysis due to the trade war between the United States and China, US President Donald Trump’s mistrust of the global trade body and, according to Tuwaijri, a lack of re-evaluation within the organisation itself.
“Hence my approach is around practical leadership,” he said.
“We need to really listen to members, but be very impartial, give ideas… gradual progress: we cannot have a switch on, switch off.”