WTO needs urgent reform, Saudi Arabia’s candidate says

A red pedestrian traffic light is seen next to the entrance of the headquarters of the World Trade Organization in Geneva. (AFP/File)
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Updated 20 July 2020

WTO needs urgent reform, Saudi Arabia’s candidate says

  • Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri says reform of the intergovernmental organization is more necessary than ever

JEDDAH: The World Trade Organization (WTO) is in need of urgent reform, Saudi Arabia’s candidate for the position of director general of the organization said in a statement.

Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri’s comments came after attending a global press conference at the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva to discuss his vision for the organization’s future. He said that reform of the WTO was more necessary than ever, indicating that the world faced major challenges affecting the flow of global trade.

“I look forward to leading the organization and implementing reforms with the consensus of all members,” Al-Tuwaijri said. He added that the role of the WTO chief was to be an effective link between members to reach understanding while relying on a governance mechanism, as well as following up on performance through clear measurement indicators.

Al-Tuwaijri said that there was a need to study the current situation accurately to understand the roots of the challenges and to develop multiple scenarios for solutions.

“Restoring confidence in the organization must be a top priority for the new general manager, in addition to the ability to respond to the changes as this will be the most important criteria for success for the organization in the future,” he said. 

Recent months have brought further challenges to the WHO’s appellate body, which adjudicates trade disputes among member countries.

From the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of protectionist measures, Al-Tuwaijri said that the most important challenge facing the organization was “the absence of effective leadership and management.” He said the situation could benefit from the convening of the upcoming ministerial conference and adopting a more dynamic and effective negotiation methodology, stressing that the multilateral system was serving everyone, but was slowing down and must be pushed forward.

Al-Tuwaijri said that he had a vision for the organization’s work based on his long experience in the field of trade and the global economy. He said that there were priorities in global trade that required urgent attention, particularly because the world was going through changes that affected the flow of trade and required the implementation of reforms with the consensus of all members.

On the question of a female director-general, he said that he supported the involvement of women in leadership positions in the organization “as this will have a major role in the development and support of the organization in overcoming current challenges.”

The royal court adviser and former economy minister was nominated by Saudi Arabia earlier this month to be the next director general of the WTO. In its submission to the WTO, the Kingdom affirmed its belief in a multilateral trading system and the vital role the organization plays in supporting it.

The Geneva-based WTO usually decides on its director-general by consensus, but if there is no agreement there will be an election. The new chief takes office on Sept. 1.


Iraq pledges full compliance with OPEC+ oil cuts

Updated 07 August 2020

Iraq pledges full compliance with OPEC+ oil cuts

  • Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, the Saudi Arabian energy minister, and his Iraqi counterpart, Ihsan Ismail, reaffirmed their commitment to the cuts
  • Under tough economic pressure, Iraq had struggled to meet the full cuts, but Ismail promised to reach 100 percent this month

DUBAI: Iraq has pledged to meet in full its obligations under the OPEC+ oil production cuts that have been credited with rebalancing global crude markets after the mayhem of April’s “Black Monday” when prices crashed around the world.

In a telephone call between Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, Saudi Arabian energy minister, and his Iraqi counterpart, Ihsan Ismail, the two men reaffirmed their commitment to the cuts, which have helped to pull the oil price back from historic lows.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, has more than doubled in the past three months.

Under tough economic pressure, Iraq had struggled to meet the full cuts, but Ismail promised to reach 100 percent this month. Iraq has now committed itself to an ambitious program of compensation to make up for past overproduction.

Iraq will further reduce production by 400,000 barrels per day this month and next, Ismail said, bringing its total cut to 1.25 million barrels daily. That level of cuts could be adjusted when final estimates of compliance are assessed by the six “secondary sources” that monitor OPEC+ output.

“The two ministers stressed that efforts by OPEC+ countries toward meeting production cuts, and the extra cuts under the compensation regime, will enhance oil market stability, help accelerate the rebalancing of global oil markets, and send a constructive signal to the market,” a joint statement added.

Prince Abdulaziz thanked Ismail for his efforts to improve Iraq’s compliance with the agreement.

Iraq had been the biggest laggard in the move toward 100 percent compliance by the 23 members of the OPEC+ alliance.

Officials in Riyadh told Arab News that Iraqi compliance had reached about 90 percent, a high level by the country’s previous standards but still short of the new targets.

Saudi Arabia has been forcefully advocating full compliance with the targets in an effort to remove oil from the global market as demand is still badly affected by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The oil market will be under the spotlight later this month when the joint ministerial monitoring committee of OPEC+ energy ministers convenes virtually in the most recent of the monthly meetings set up to oversee the state of the global industry.

Oil had another strong week on global markets, breaking through the $45 barrier for the first time since early March on signs that the glut in US oil stocks was easing, as well as reductions in the amount of “floating crude” stored in tankers on the world’s oceans.

The price spiked on news of the Beirut explosion, which some analysts believed could herald a deterioration in regional security and a threat to oil exports.

Brent crude was trading at $44.70 on international markets.