Kenya’s WTO front-runner says she’s the ‘plug-and-play’ choice

Kenya's candidate for the WTO's top job, Amina Mohamed | Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images

Kenya’s WTO front-runner says she’s the ‘plug-and-play’ choice

Amina Mohamed plays up her trade experience relative to Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala


8/5/20, 11:17 AM CET

Updated 8/5/20, 11:18 AM CET

An African woman is likely to land the world’s top trade job. It’s just a question of which one, because two are vying to lead the World Trade Organization.

When Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former Nigerian finance minister and corruption-buster, entered the race in early June, it significantly increased the prospect that it could fall to the WTO’s first African boss to lead the sclerotic institution out of the paralysis caused by a trade war between America and China.

But impressive as Okonjo-Iweala’s CV might be, her trade experience is limited.

Amina Mohamed, Kenya’s candidate for the job, is positioning herself as the “plug-and-play” candidate. She knows the corridors of the Geneva-based organization from her experience as ambassador in Geneva as well as from hosting the WTO’s ministerial conference in Nairobi in 2015 when she was the country’s trade minister.

“There’s no time to go through a learning curve — one needs to hit the ground running,” Mohamed told POLITICO in an interview from Geneva, where she’s now based for the campaign. “The WTO is at a crossroads, and the membership knows that,” she said.

All three Africans are boosted by a growing consensus in Geneva that it’s time for an African trade chief as the continent has never held the post.

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