As minister, Mohammed Al Tuwaijri has been a vocal supporter of a higher role for the private sector. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabia has nominated Mohammed Al Tuwaijri for position of director-general at World Trade Organisation (WTO).

He was the kingdom’s minister of economy and planning from 2016, before being relieved in March. As minister, Al Tuwaijri oversaw sweeping changes the economy initiated as part of Vision 2030, which has set a target of raising the private sector’s contribution to GDP of 65 per cent from its current 40 per cent.

At this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Al Tuwaijri in an interview to Al Arabiya emphasised the importance of the non-oil sector in securing growth. “We care to increase the local content and provide jobs when looking into the economic growth and this is one of the main objectives of Vision 2030, from the privatisation program to the industry programme,” he said.

Prior to his appointment to the ministry, Al Tuwaijri had stints at Saudi British Bank as head of risk management before becoming managing director and CEO of JP Morgan Saudi Arabia, when it launched operations there.

After that, he moved to HSBC Holding, where he served as group managing director, deputy chairman and CEO of HSBC Bank Middle East and North Africa.

The race is on lead the World Trade Organization out of the worst crisis of its 25-year existence.

A hot contest ahead

According to Bloomberg, delegates from the WTO's 164 members will select from a roster of eight candidates to become the seventh director-general of the Geneva-based trade body. The nominations closed Wednesday.

The current chief, Roberto Azevedo, is stepping down on Auguest 31 - a year before his second four-year term expires. His successor will have a number of formidable tasks.

Priorities for the WTO's next leader will be rebuilding the trust and credibility of the organization, rebooting its deadlocked negotiating agenda and restoring its paralyzed dispute-settlement system.

All that against the backdrop of a pandemic, a worldwide recession, the US-China battle for trade supremacy and an American election season where the WTO is a lightning rod for grievances about the fairness of global commerce. Brexit at year-end threatens to add instability about the economic relationship between the UK and the European Union.

A banker... and a pilot
Mohammed Al Tuwaijri holds a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics, which he acquired in 1980 at the King Faisal Air Academy.

He joined Saudi Air Force in 1988 as a pilot and took part in the 1991 Gulf War.