Candidates from nine countries vie to head WTO

Nine countries have presented candidates to succeed Pascal Lamy as head of the World Trade Organisation ahead of the deadline Monday.

The last candidate was Roberto Azevedo, Brazil's envoy to the WTO, whose name was put forth on Friday. He has been with the world's trade oversight body since 2008.

Mexico has nominated Herminio Blanco Mendoza, an economist and former minister who led that country's negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mendoza also led Mexico's participation in the Uruguay round of talks that preceded the creation of the WTO in 1995.

Costa Rica proposes that its foreign trade minister, Anabel Gonzalez, is the best candidate for the job.

South Korea and New Zealand have also nominated their trade ministers, Taeho Bark and Tim Groser, respectively.

From Jordan, the name of ex-minister Ahmad Nindawi has been put forward, while Indonesia is going with Mari Pangestu, current tourism minister and also a former trade minister.

The race kicked off on December 17 when Ghana nominated its former trade minister Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen, while Kenya has since suggested that its WTO ambassador Amina Mohamed be given the job.

The WTO's 158 member countries had until Monday to nominate candidates for the prestigious position, and the UN trade body is to make its decision known by May 31.

When Lamy, who is French, was first chosen in 2005, three other candidates from Brazil, Mauritius and Uruguay also threw their hats in the ring, but the Frenchman was unopposed to succeed himself in 2009.

As his second term drew to a close, developing countries said it was time that one of their own get another chance as WTO director general. Supachai Panitchpakdi of Thailand preceded Lamy in the post, serving one term.

The WTO's General Council is mandated with selecting the director general by consensus, and candidates that stand little chance of being selected are expected to withdraw on their own.

The next WTO head will be charged with trying to wrap up the so-called Doha Round of trade talks, which were launched in 2001 but have since encountered obstacles set in particular by China, the European Union, India and the United States.

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