With the end of the second phase of the nomination process, Saudi Arabia’s candidate for the presidency of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Muhammad bin Mazyad Al-Tuwaijri, has put in place an international framework of six strategic axes that will be the basis for his work if he gains the members’ confidence and succeeds in assuming the position of Director General.
The second phase of the process, in which the candidates “made themselves known to the members”, will end on Monday. On that day, the third phase will begin, extending over a period of two months, during which the Chair of the General Council, together with the chairs of the Dispute Settlement Body and the Trade Policy Review Body, will start to consult with all WTO members to assess their preferences and seek to determine which candidate is best placed to attract consensus support.
The first round of consultations between the members will be held between Sept. 7 and 16, to be followed by two additional rounds, during which the field of candidates will be reduced from eight to five to two candidates in the final round.
Tuwaijri, recently launched a website in four languages, in which he explained the features of a major action plan aimed at comprehensive reform within the corridors of the trade organization, taking into account the changes in the balance of powers, the acceleration of global technological advances, and international developments.
Challenges: The Benefits of Globalization
The official portal recently launched by Tuwaijri revealed that the most prominent challenges facing the World Trade Organization are recent developments, stating that the map of the great powers in the past decades has changed at an accelerated pace, as is the case for the geopolitical forces that link the world’s major economies.
The Saudi candidate added that the Covid-19 pandemic exposed the gaps that states face internally and among each other, raising questions about the benefits and fate of globalization, which has somehow revived nationalist tendencies.
As on the global level, Tuwaijri noted that recent developments have affected the framework of the intra-trade movement, warning of the existing trends that he said were a cause for concern. He underlined, in this regard, the need to commit to supporting the international system in order to promote sustainable development.
An Impartial Mediator
In light of the current circumstances, Tuwaijri said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was an impartial mediator, with a role that works to bridge the rift and resolve the divisions between Africa, China, Europe, and the United States. He also noted that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has an opportunity to create a global framework commensurate with the requirements of the 21st century.
The Six Strategies
The Saudi candidate focused on promoting joint action within six strategic areas, the first of which is the assessment of needs, where he is committed to understanding the experiences of all WTO members and their views during the first 100 days of his term. He would then conduct an in-depth assessment of the global economic landscape and its vulnerability to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, to improve the organization’s approach to managing the multilateral trade system.
Data Acquisition: An Analysis
In the second strategy, Tuwaijri highlights the role of data in enhancing management and improving performance, based on his high-ranking positions in the public and private sectors. He said that he intended to give priority to analyzing the operations of the WTO, enhancing its efficiency, and improving its impact around the world.
Building Trust: A Principle
According to Tuwaijri, the principle of inclusiveness is one of the most important pillars of international trade, as it is intended to listen to all the opinions expressed by all members of the WTO and to enhance the spirit of openness and transparency at the internal and external levels.
In the fourth strategy, Tuwaijri added that disputes were a possibility in multilateral scenarios. “But the mechanisms available for resolving these disputes must be effective and adaptable to the growing and dynamic commercial relations,” he said on his website.
Stimulating Innovation: Collaboration
In the fifth strategy for reforming the organization, Tuwaijri said: “Given that intergovernmental institutions face more scrutiny, the cooperation among these institutions has become necessary to maximize their impact.”
In order for the organization to deepen its relations with its counterparts and with member states, the Saudi candidate intends to launch a roadmap that provides a clear vision of the organization’s work and contributes to improving awareness about international trade issues and their importance in people’s lives.
Commitment and Impartiality
The sixth principle of the organization’s reform approach, according to Tuwaijri’s vision, is achieving progress by abandoning preconceived ideologies and focusing instead on facts.
Therefore, he stressed his commitment to effective communication with various stakeholders, internally and externally, to understand their concerns and requirements, which contributes to enhancing the efficiency of the World Trade Organization in the interest of all.
The Saudi candidate intends to spend 50% of his time interacting with stakeholders, 40% of his time focusing on innovation, and 10% focusing on management, stressing that inclusiveness was required to enhance trade cooperation between countries.