Arab News Japan
TOKYO: Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said while Japan is not currently in a position to support a specific candidate to become the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), he hopes the winning candidate will be able to reform the organisation and coordinate interests between major countries.
Speaking to Arab News Japan at a press conference, Motegi explained his stanceabout which candidate would best represent Japan’s position and what the next director-general’s mission should be. The WTO last week entered the third phase of a months long selection process to find a replacement for former Director-General Roberto Azevêdo.
Eight candidates were nominated by their respective countries for the position, including Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The eight candidates will be narrowed to five in the phase of consultations starting this week.
While Motegi did not offer support for a particular person, he emphasized that the WTO is in a state of dysfunction at the Apellate Body level and expressed that rule making in the digital economy is “acutely needed.” The Apellate Body is the WTO’s top dispute-resolving body but has become effectively dysfunctional due to the blocking of new members by the US.
“There’s no time to waste for reform,” said Motegi. “For the new secretary-general, this person will have to work on these mounting challenges to take the reform of the WTO forward solidly.”
He emphasized that an important quality in his view for the next director-general is the ability to coordinate different interests between major countries. Among other issues, international commerce has been rocked by the unsteady trade relationship between the US and China in recent years.
Other aspects Motegi said he was looking for in a successful candidate are whether they will work toward strengthening the multilateral trading system and whether the candidate will help secure transparency of the organization.
“I do hope that the candidate that satisfies these conditions will be selected and I would like to continue to work with the relevant countries,” he added.