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India, China battle for key post of WTO deputy director general

NEW DELHI: India and China are vying for a prominent appointment at the World Trade Organization (WTO), with New Delhi pitching for the appointment of former diplomat Mohan Kumar, who is currently the chairman of thinktank Research and Information System for Developing Countries, as a deputy director general (DDG).

China has suggested its former ambassador to WTO Zhang Xiangchen as a candidate. The tussle between India and China for its top officials is from Asia, who will have to compete with nominees from the US, European Union and Latin America. A final decision will be taken by the newly appointed WTO director general (DG) Ngozi Okonjo-lweala.

The DG, who heads the secretariat, works with her team of deputy DGs in carrying forward the negotiations and implementation of the agreements. The DDGs are assigned various divisions at WTO. The current DG is trying to break the impasse at WTO, with several countries led by the US questioning the continuation of the body in its current form.

“All are very good candidates, but the DG has to take a final call,” said a source familiar with the process. For India, Harsha Vardhan Singh was the last deputy DG from the country during Pascal Lamy’s term. India was one of the supporters for the appointment of the current DG in what was a closely fought contest, which was blocked by the Trump administration.

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