UK’s Liam Fox and Saudi Arabia gain unexpected toehold in race for WTO top job

Candidates from the UK and Saudi Arabia unexpectedly survived the first round of voting in the race to lead the World Trade Organization, alongside three other contenders, including the two favourites for the job.

Liam Fox, the UK’s former international trade secretary, and Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri, a Saudi minister who advises the royal court on economics, will go forward to the second of three rounds of voting for WTO director-general, it was announced on Friday.

They will be joined by the two favourites, Kenya’s Amina Mohamed and Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Yoo Myung-hee, South Korea’s trade minister.

The eliminated candidates were Hamid Mamdouh, an Egyptian former negotiator and WTO official, Jesús Seade Kuri, a veteran Mexican policymaker, and Tudor Ulianovschi, a Moldovan former foreign minister.

While Mr Ulianovschi’s elimination was widely predicted, expectations among many trade officials in Geneva and bookmakers’ odds suggested that the Saudi candidate and probably Mr Fox would also lose out, with either Mr Mamdouh or Mr Seade going through.

After the result was announced, Mr Fox said: “My time as a UK minister in one of the world’s biggest economies with a respected development agenda allowed me to get a real sense of both opportunities and…

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