JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s candidate to head the World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Friday that the organization was in a state of stagnation and that reform was necessary.
The WTO director-general should act as a link between member states and help them to understand each other, Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri said during a virtual press conference.
“We should focus on successes instead of disagreements,” he said, adding that WTO faced problems in resolving disagreements.
Saudi Arabia nominated the former economy and planning minister to head WTO last week amid a last-minute international flurry of submissions to succeed the incumbent Roberto Azevedo who is stepping down in August.
Al-Tuwaijri became an adviser to the royal court in March, Saudi Arabia’s state news agency said, retaining the rank of minister.
The new chief of WTO must revive stalled trade talks, plan the 2021 ministerial conference and resolve the US-China dispute.
The organization finds itself caught in the middle of rising tensions between the two countries, and if the process becomes “heavily politicized, that could block things up,” a diplomatic source told AFP.
Al-Tuwaijri said that the world was going through many changes that had affected trade.
“The future of the world beyond coronavirus is mysterious,” the Saudi official said, but claimed that post the pandemic era could bring “great opportunities.”
During the conference Al-Tuwaijri also suggested new approaches and reform in the organization, asking “why not rethink some of the rules, some of the processes?” and “introduce new ideas to the members.”
“I look forward to heading the organization and enacting changes which fit all members,” he said, adding that in his role he would aim to empower women by placing them in leadership positions.
“Recently Saudi Arabia won the number one reformer globally in terms of doing business and (promoting the role of) women at work,” he said.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Investment, Khalid Al-Falih, thinks that Al-Tuwaijri’s appointment as WTO director-general will be a step forward in addressing global economic challenges that have escalated due to trade disputes and COVID-19.
Al-Falih said that Al-Tuwajiri’s expertise in both private and public sectors would play an important role in realigning the organization’s policies during the current climate.
The minister said that this had come at a time when the Kingdom’s was heading the G20 and had fulfilled major economic reforms to achieve Vision 2030 goals.
“Saudi Arabia has been a major and influential member in the international market within several organizations including the World Trade Organization,” Al-Falih said. “Saudi Arabia has contributed to the development of the international trading system and has improved its investment environment since it joined WTO.”
He said that Saudi Arabia was keen to help with global economic prosperity and in aiding developing countries to meet their development targets and overcome economic challenges.
Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan said that Al-Tuwaijri’s nomination was an extension of the Kingdom’s role in activating international cooperation and a sense of responsibility as G20 president.
He said that the Kingdom supported global efforts that helped WTO to advance and form strategic visions for G20 member countries to enhance trade and drive economic growth and sustainable development.
“Saudi Arabia believes in the multilateral trading system and the organic role the WTO plays to promote commercial accessibility, and how the organization enforces rules of international trade,” Al-Jadaan said.
Watch Saudi Arabia’s candidate to head the World Trade Organization (WTO) Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri speak at a press conference here: