Nominating Liam Fox for the WTO makes perfect sense… – Conservative Article
Liam Fox has been nominated by the government to become Director-General of the World Trade Organisation. Boris Johnson had the choice between Liam Fox and former Labour Cabinet Minister Lord Mandelson. Both figures have more than enough experience to become Director-General of the WTO. However, there are some reasons why Liam Fox has the upper hand.
Fox has been a Conservative MP since 1992 and is a staunch Eurosceptic having campaigned for Brexit in the 2016 referendum. He was Secretary of State for Defence under David Cameron and Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade under Theresa May. Lord Mandelson has been the European Commissioner for Trade and President of the Board of Trade.
Despite Boris Johnson sacking Fox as Secretary of State, he embodies the vision of global free trade. He is an advocate of multilateralism. Fox has plenty of connections across the world including Republicans in the US. He has contentiously maintained the “special” relationship between the UK and the USA. He founded and was a director of the charity, The Atlantic Bridge which aimed to preserve and promote the relations.
Liam Fox champions global free trade and stated in a speech to the UK-US Trade and Investment Working Group in 2017 that it was “a global responsibility and not one that Britain can realise.” In this speech, he refers to David Ricardo’s Theory of Comparative Advantage. The theory states that free and open trade between nations, to meet demand, causes a parallel increase in prosperity. In simpler terms, this means both countries become richer. This is the most fundamental justification of the power of free trade.
To relate this back to the “special” relationship, Liam Fox stated that “In 2016 trade between the UK and the USA amounted to around $227 billion.” Through his connections in the USA, he has managed to maintain such a crucial bolt in the UK’s trade relations. It was claimed that the stock of investment in each economy stood at “$1 trillion”. I can see why Theresa May chose him to lead the Department of International Trade when it was established.
I am going to refer again to this speech as Fox clearly understands the implications beyond economics and politics. He said, “the silting up of the global trading environment has implications beyond mere economics.” This is linked to social and political stability and collective security. The WTO encompasses freedom and fairness in world trade. Liam Fox champions this to the core. In a recent article in The Telegraph, he stated the need for “political momentum” and “progression”. I share this vision even though the WTO is supposed to be politically neutral.
Lord Mandelson has been lobbying other governments to gain their trust and support to become the nominee. However, I would advise against criticising an organisation when trying to gain the top job. Many countries rely on the WTO for economic prosperity and aid. He has branded the organisation as “broken” so surely, he wants the support of the members of the WTO to gain the role.
Liam Fox has also criticised the organisation. However, this was by saying trade disputes take too long to settle as there is “too little transparency and oversight, so it is difficult to know who is following the rules.” Fox identified the issue immediately instead of criticising the organisation as a whole.
Of course, Lord Mandelson has many pros. He has repeatedly called for “economic openness”, most importantly in 2006 in a speech in China. Lord Mandelson is part of “old news” and the UK needs someone to represent them to comply with the current climate and has a good relationship with the Prime Minister.
Liam Fox is certainly not the frontrunner to win the position but I think he is the perfect nominee. He fits the bill for the UK in the current climate in terms of trade relations post-Brexit. But mainly for the whole world to bounce back from economic recessions because of the current pandemic.
Written by Guest Conservative Writer, Max Jablonowski
Point of Information
Liam Fox doesn’t have a hope in hell for the WTO – a Labour Response
What on earth is Boris Johnson thinking by nominating Liam Fox for Director-General of the WTO? Scrap that, why on earth is Boris Johnson nominating anyone at all for Director-General of the WTO? Is this his idea of a joke?
Seemingly submitted for a laugh, Fox’s candidacy barely made the deadline, arriving just half an hour before applications closed on the 8th of July. Apparently, the Brexiter who issued such outlandish guff as the notion that 40 trade deals would be ready the second the UK leaves the EU (we’re currently at 20), and that establishing a post-Brexit deal with the EU would be the “easiest in human history”, is the right man to help maintain trade agreements in the midst of an economic crisis and a US/China trade war.
It’s embarrassingly arrogant for the PM to submit a candidate for the position in the first place. For context, there are only seven other nominees for the role. Not a single EU member state has put forward a candidate.
The process for selecting the Director-General includes “seek[ing] to determine which candidate is best placed to attract consensus support”. It’s ludicrous to think that the WTO would even consider Liam Fox for the role. It would be a grave, unambiguous insult to the EU.
Not that Lord Mandelson would be a much better candidate. Famously one of the inspirations for Malcolm Tucker, Mandelson is a distasteful anachronism from the Blair years. Although slightly more experienced than Fox, he is just as corrupt and yet more divisive.
The government would be far better advised to support a more capable nominee from overseas, such as Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former Managing Director of the World Bank and an enormously experienced economist. Or Korea’s highly respected Yoo Myung-hee.
To think that Liam Fox would hold a candle to any of these candidates is delusional. Even if he did possess a fraction of their experience or expertise, the mere fact he is a Brexiter disqualifies him from a basic diplomatic perspective. There’s a good chance that someone high up in Number 10 has a grudge against Fox, and this nomination is simply designed to humiliate him. The only other explanation is pure, patriotic delusion.
Written by Senior Labour Writer, Max Ingleby
Cronyism at its Finest – a Liberal Response
Liam Fox’s nomination to the WTO is simply further evidence of cronyism by the Johnson Government. He prefers absolute loyalists over the best people for the job. This has already been evident through the Government’s unsuccessful attempt to install Chris Grayling as Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee. As well as a string of controversial appointments in the recent Dissolution Honours list (where he literally gave his own brother a peerage).
Looking to the nomination more closely, Max gives the example of the United States when discussing Fox’s global connections. This fails to take into account the appointment process of the Director-General, which requires consensus between all 164 member states. Despite the global influence of the United States, it is very unlikely to be able to produce the required consensus between all of the member states on its own.
It is for this reason that I also take issue with Max’s criticism of Lord Mandelson’s lobbying of foreign governments. With the role appointed through consensus, this kind of lobbying is essential. It presents a missed opportunity for a more credible choice for the UK.
Nonetheless, the EU is likely to support an African candidate. And with Britain’s harder line against China alienating parts of Asia, Fox is almost certainly just a paper candidate – with no real prospect of victory. It’s a wonder the UK chose to nominate anyone at all.
Written by Guest Liberal Writer, Jeeves Sidhu
I am Max Jablonowski, a second year student studying French and Politics at the University of Exeter, and I am about to go on my year abroad to Paris to complete two internships. I was Academic Events Manager of the Politics Society in Exeter and I was privileged enough to organize events such as Question Time, co-host the 2019 General Election Hustings with MWEXE and host the Rt. Hon. James Brokenshire MP, the current Minister of State for Security.
A late bloomer when it comes to politics and current affairs, I first dipped my toes in the political pool at the tender age of sixteen with a bracing submersion into the AS politics syllabus, and I have been hooked ever since.
Hello I’m Jeeves, one of POI’s new Liberal Political Writers and currently a final year politics student at the University of Exeter. For the past two years I’ve also served as Founder & President of Model Westminster Exeter, a branch of national political engagement charity Model Westminster.