President Kaljulaid on official OECD secretary-general candidate list

President Kersti Kaljulaid.
President Kersti Kaljulaid. Source: Three Seas Initiative

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has published its full list of candidates for the next secretary-general, including President Kersti Kaljulaid.

Ten people have been nominated; along with President Kaljulaid, the list is made up of former Trump adviser and now White House Deputy Chief of Staff Chris Liddell, former Australian finance minister Mathias Cormann, former European Commissioners Cecilia Malmström and Anna Diamantopoulou, president of the Czech Republic's Chamber of Commerce Vladimir Dlouhy, Swiss former central bank chief Philipp Hildebrand, the OECD's own deputy director Ulrik Vestergaard Knudsen (Denmark), Polish Minister of Climate and Environment Michal Kurtyka and former Canadian finance minister Bill Morneau.

Of the 10, many have tipped Chris Liddell, largely since a U.S. national has not held the post in the organization's 60-year history.

New Zealand-born Liddell is a former CFO at General Motors and Microsoft, and served as Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives early on in the Trump administration.

Sources say, however, that a Trump loss in the U.S. Presidential election Tuesday would severely reduce his chances of getting the job.

Conversely, Mathias Cormann himself says he does not rate his chances since he had come from an administration – which he left only last week – which has been climate-change skeptical at a time when the OECD says it wants to prioritize tackling the phenomenon.

The OECD, often dubbed the "rich countries' club", is aimed at promiting economic development and world trade.

Current Secretary-General José Ángel Gurría's (Mexico) five-year term ends in May 2021.

The OECD contains 37 member states, chiefly in Europe, the Americas and Australasia, who published the 10-candidate list on Monday.

President Kersti Kaljulaid threw her hat into the ring in late August, later saying the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had recommended she run.

Kaljulaid had spearheaded Estonia's successful bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC), traveling widely around the globe in the run-up, which it was awarded in June 2019, for the 2020-2021 term.

She also recently hosted the Three Seas Virtual Summit in Tallinn, as part of Estonia's role as host nation of the initiative, aimed at bringing transport, energy, digital and environmental infrastructures in 12, mostly Central and Eastern European, EU member states, up to speed.

Should she get the job, it would mean a second term as President of Estonia is off the table. The next presidential elections in Estonia take place in autumn 2021 and follow several rounds of voting in the Riigikogu and via an electoral college in provincial Estonia, returning to the Riigikogu if these prove inconclusive.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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