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2020 Marks a Remarkable Moment for African Commercial Diplomacy

Three of the eight candidates nominated to be the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation are from Africa: former Egyptian ambassador and later senior WTO staff member Hamid Mamdouh, former Kenyan trade minister Amina Mohamed and former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The leading candidates are the two women. These candidacies are symbolic and substantive. They underscore Africa’s growing importance in global economic governance, and provide an opportunity to debate the continent’s future in international trade. Africa also has some painful choices to make both in terms of its own unity and, in the long run, for its future in international trade. Should an African DG be selected, they would be symbolic of African unity and, subsequently, well-positioned to cajole Africa on internal issues. The three candidates have until September 7 to persuade other member states to support them, after which the WTO will take another two months to select a consensus candidate through several rounds of elimination.