Trade Analyst Optimistic That The Next WTO Director-General Could Be An African

Trade Analyst Optimistic That The Next WTO Director-General Could Be An African

Trade Analyst and a Managing Partner at Konfidants, Michael Kottoh


A Trade Analyst has predicted and is optimistic that an African could become the next Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) if a competent name is represented by the continent for the vacant position created by the resignation of Brazil’s Roberto Azevêdo.

Michael Kottoh who is also a Managing Partner at Konfidants, holds this assertion based on the premise that geopolitical issues and trade war between the U.S and China as well as the European Union will make it nearly impossible for a new Director General of the WTO to emerge from those regions.

In 2013, Alan Kyerematen, Ghana’s current Minister for Trade and Industry, contested Brazil’s Roberto Azevêdo but lost.

Speaking in an interview, he emphasized that this is an opening for Africans to step up and occupy the position as the just resigned Director-General of WTO hails from a developing country. This he believes could be an advantage for the African continent.


“An African candidate could well turn out to be the compromised candidate looking at the trade disputes and tensions,” he said.


However, he indicated that for anyone to occupy that position, they will need the backing of the United States (U.S) due to its influence in global trade, which was valued at 4.14 trillion dollars in 2019.

Amongst the names that has come up for the position, Ambassador Amina Mohammed of Kenya; who once served on the General Council of the World Trade Organisation is the paramount one.

Mr. Koteh also related part of the reasons associated with Roberto Azevêdo’s resignation to pressure from the U.S which hassled the WTO not to see China as an emerging market.


“America has always frustrated the WTO. The U.S has for example blocked the election of judges to the WTO appellate body because the United States thinks the WTO rules favours China because it sees China as a developing country.”


Trade tensions between China and U.S to impede growth

The IMF has predicted a shrink by at least 3 per cent in global growth this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Some international analysts have also stated that recurrent rows between the United States and China over tariffs, subsidies, dumping of goods, and protection of intellectual property rights, forced transfer of technology and other trade and investment restrictions, have contributed to significant tensions and near enmity in global trade.

The struggle for world supremacy between China and the US pre Covid-19 has not been a secret. All these are expected to negatively impact world trade, causing revenue to fall.

ACFTA, possible opportunity for an African selection

Some international trade analysts have asserted that the current vacant position of the Director-General of WTO couldn’t have come to Africa at a better time as the continent prepares to implement the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement.

This deal, for many, may give Africa the goad to put forward a candidate that may be deemed neutral in the face of the US-China trade war.