Two former Commissioners, Trump aide among 10 candidates for OECD top job

The Paris chateau hosting OECD. [Website of the Permanent Representation of Austria to the OECD]

A top aide to President Donald Trump, two former EU Commissioners and a current EU head of state are among 10 candidates to lead the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the OECD said Monday (2 November).

The Paris-based 37-nation club, which has the stated goal of boosting economic progress and world trade, will need a new secretary general when Angel Gurria’s third five-year term ends in May 2021.

On Monday, the OECD issued an official list of candidates to take over from Gurria on 1 June.

They were nominated by member countries, mostly in Europe, the Americas and Asia and which account for 60% of global gross domestic product.

The list includes Christopher Liddell, Trump’s deputy chief of staff for policy coordination.

A former chief financial officer at General Motors and Microsoft, Liddell is tipped as the favourite by some because no US citizen has ever led the OECD since its creation in 1961 despite the US being the biggest contributor to its budget.

But internal sources say a defeat for Trump in the US presidential election on Tuesday would hurt Liddell’s chances.

The OECD’s predecessor, the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), was formed to administer US and Canadian aid under the Marshall Plan for European reconstruction after World War II.

As for Australia’s Mathias Cormann, who quit as finance minister last week to seek the top OECD job, an insider told AFP his participation in a government seen as climate-sceptic could scupper his chances because the OECD wants to prioritise the fight against climate change.

The list also includes two former European Commissioners: Sweden’s Cecilia Malmström, who held the trade portfolio, and Greece’s Anna Diamantopoulou who was responsible for labour and social affairs.

Estonia’s President Kersti Kaljulaid, whose five-year term ends next year, has also been nominated.

Others on the list are former Czech industry minister Vladimir Dlouhy, former Swiss central bank governor Philipp Hildebrand, now vice-chairman of the investment fund BlackRock, OECD Deputy Secretary General Ulrik Vestergaard Knudsen from Denmark, Poland’s environment minister Michal Kurtyka, and Canada’s former finance minister William Morneau.

Candidates will be interviewed over the coming weeks by member countries, followed by consultations with individual delegations in search of a consensus appointment, the OECD said.

Six EU members are not members of OECD: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Hungary, Malta and Romania.

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