Saudi Arabia’s candidate for WTO chief draws on Vision 2030 expertise

JEDDAH: Mohammad Maziad Al Tuwaijri, the former minister of economy and planning and Saudi air force pilot, believes that there are lessons to be learnt from Saudi Vision 2030. The framework, which he helped produce in 2016, intends to reduce the Kingdom’s economic dependence on oil and develop public service sectors in fields including health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism by 2030.

“This is the fifth year and I am proud to see this transformation taking place in a very difficult region. The core concepts are economic diversification, empowering the private sector, [having more] women in power,” he said.

Mr Al Tuwaijri sees the management and leadership aspects of the WTO as similar in nature to the Kingdom’s transformation.

He is one of eight candidates who appeared before the WTO’s General Council – the decision-making body composed of envoys from the 164 member countries – to pitch their suitability for director general this week.

This year’s shortlist also includes three women and three African candidates, as well as a Brexiteer.

The other candidates are former Nigerian foreign and finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Egyptian former diplomat Hamid Mamdouh; and Kenya’s former WTO general council chair, Amina Mohamed. South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee is also in the running.

From Europe, Britain’s first post-Brexit international trade secretary, Liam Fox, and former Moldovan foreign minister Tudor Ulianovschi are pitching for the role at the multilateral body.

A decision on the candidates will be made by the general council by August 31, when the incumbent, Roberto Azevedo of Brazil, will step down.

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