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World Bank battle looms - maybe

World Bank battle looms - maybe
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News that the World Bank’s president, Robert Zoellick, is to step down has the governments of developing nations calling for a change to the system whereby that job is automatically held by an American.

Zoellick will leave in June, when his term ends.

Officials from countries like China, Brazil and the Philippines have said would like to end Washington’s grip on the post but it is not clear if they can reach consensus on a candidate.

“It is not so much the identity of Mr. Zoellick’s
replacement that concerns us but rather the process in which his successor is selected,” said Philippines Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.

“We are confident that given the increasing importance of emerging markets in the global economy, outdated practices of the past will be revisited,” he said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liun Weimin told reporters that Beijing “hopes the next president of the world bank would be selected based on the principles of merit in a fair and open competition.

In the past groupings such as the BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — have struggled to find much common ground on global development issues, making it hard for them to rally around a single candidate.

The World Bank has taken steps to enhance emerging markets’ power and influence, commensurate with their growing economic clout — a move that helps blunt criticism that it is too dominated by Western powers.

It endorsed a plan in 2010 that gave more voting power to developing countries, vaulting China to the No. 3 spot behind the United States and Japan.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said that Washington would put forward a candidate “in the coming weeks” and called for an open process to fill the job.

Among the names being speculated about are former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The State Department said Clinton would not be taking the job.

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