Voice

What Mexico's WTO bid says about its foreign policy

The FT's Adam Thomson looks at what Mexico's well organized campaign to get Herminio Blanco the top job at the World Trade Organization (WTO) says about the country's diplomacy:

Peña Nieto’s administration sees Blanco’s candidacy for the WTO job as a perfect vehicle to project Mexico as a defender of free-trade values and practices globally. The 46-year-old president has personally backed Blanco for the post, and he tasked the country’s foreign ministry, as well as the network of embassies and consulates around the world, to explore ways of promoting the Mexican’s chances wherever and whenever possible.

Leading the campaign co-ordination is Lourdes Aranda, a respected and highly capable member of Mexico’s foreign service, who was a key figure during Mexico’s time in the presidency of the G-20.

Such commitment from the state creates a telling contrast with the experience of Angel Gurría, Mexico’s former finance minister who in 2006 made it to the top job of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development thanks mainly to his own substantial efforts. Greater support from Mexico’s previous administration for Agustín Carstens, Mexico’s central bank governor, may not have changed the outcome of his failure to reach the top post at the International Monetary Fund. But it wouldn’t have hurt, either.

The Multilateralist

Jim Kim faces BRICS bank questions

With the spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund picking up steam, Bank president Jim Kim faced the international press today. He was asked several times about the possibility that the Bank will face competition from a planned new BRICS bank. Kim insisted first that there's plenty of room for all sorts of lending:

[E]very single one of the BRICS countries has an enormous infrastructure deficit that simply can't be met by a single institution, certainly not the World Bank in and of itself. So, for us, the BRICS Bank is quite a natural extension of the need for more investment in infrastructure, and so we would welcome it.

But he also maintained that the Bank has unique expertise:

I would point out that the World Bank has been around for 66 years. We have 66 years of experience in building infrastructure. We have knowledge that cuts across all that have been developed to working with all 188 member countries. And so our sense is that whatever other banks are built, one, there is plenty of infrastructure that needs to go around, and our sense is that they would want to take advantage of the knowledge that we have.

Kim also rejected any idea that the World Bank may be declining in relevance:

I really have no doubt in my own mind about our continued relevance for a very long time. In fact, that's precisely the news that I'm getting back from every single one of the BRICS countries. There is an increasing request for our involvement, not a decreasing sense of demand for our environment of our services.