Tags: Zoellick | Likely | Approved | for | World | Bank

Zoellick Likely to Be Approved for World Bank

Friday, 01 June 2007 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration appeared on Thursday to have averted a fight with other World Bank member nations over its choice of Robert Zoellick to head the poverty-fighting agency, with his approval already widely considered a foregone conclusion.

Fresh support for Zoellick's nomination came on Thursday from Australian Treasurer Peter Costello, who last week joined South Africa and Brazil in calling for a more open and transparent system for choosing the president of the World Bank, a role that has always been held by an American.

"Mr. Zoellick is an excellent candidate for the World Bank presidency and will be supported by Australia," Costello said in a statement.

Costello, however, repeated that the selection process needed to change and should be based on qualifications and not nationality.

U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday picked Zoellick to replace Paul Wolfowitz, who agreed to resign following an ethics scandal stemming from his involvement in a high-paying promotion for his companion at the bank.

Costello did not indicate there would be pressure from Australia or any developing countries to open the field to other candidates this time, before a June 15 deadline for nominations by the World Bank board of member countries.

South Africa and Brazil have also voiced their support for Zoellick, who is known internationally as a former U.S. Trade Representative and former deputy Secretary of State.

"Mr. Zoellick's appointment will sail through. He has a lot of support among the members," said one board source from a developing country. "It's a fait accompli."

Zoellick, who is considered a tough negotiator but also a consensus builder, is currently a senior executive at Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs.

His nomination has however drawn a cool response from nonprofit groups, which regularly clashed with him on trade issues while he served as the top U.S. trade negotiator from 2001 through 2005.

Many complained that their working relationship with him as the top trade negotiator was difficult and that he sidelined those who did not agree with him.

One nonprofit group member said however that "if he tackled anti-poverty issues with the same zeal as trade issues, he would be a successful World Bank president."

Former World Bank President Jim Wolfensohn and Wolfowitz reached out to nonprofits to discuss the bank's strategies and welcomed their input on anti-poverty issues, including on ways to fight corruption in developing countries.

"After the Wolfowitz uproar, one might have expected the Bush administration to pick a more genteel and broad-minded successor to lead this global institution," said Sarah Anderson of the Washington-based Institute of Policy Studies.

Bruce Jenkins, acting executive director of the Washington-based Bank Information Center, said the Wolfowitz scandal had presented an opportunity to initiate reforms at the World Bank, starting with opening up the selection process of its president.

"The shareholders' rush to put the scandal behind them without instituting the most basic reforms clearly shows the intractability of the governance failures at the institution. If not now, then when?" Jenkins added.

© reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration appeared on Thursday to have averted a fight with other World Bank member nations over its choice of Robert Zoellick to head the poverty-fighting agency, with his approval already widely considered a foregone conclusion. Fresh...
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Friday, 01 June 2007 12:00 AM
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