Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 23 August 2019

World Bank chief Kim's resignation paves way for Trump appointee

It comes more than three years before his term ends amid differences with the US administration

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim attends the opening ceremony of the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing, November 6, 2018. Reuters
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim attends the opening ceremony of the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing, November 6, 2018. Reuters

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim's surprising resignation on Monday has now opened up a vacancy for US President Donald Trump to fill, a prospect that could see other countries clash with Washington over its influence at the multilateral body, one of the kind that the American leader has long railed against.

Mr Kim was appointed twice by Mr Trump's predecessor Barack Obama and had differed in opinion with the Trump administration on issues such as the use of coal, a sector that the American leader has sought to revitalise in his first two years in office.

He had pushed financing for green energy projects and largely dropped support for coal power investments, but had avoided public clashes with the Trump administration and worked with his daughter Ivanka on a woman's entreprenseurship initiative in 2017.

The bank has been led by Americans and chosen by the US President since its founding after the conclusion of World War II, so Mr Trump will have the power to select his own leader for the world lender. If Mr Kim had stayed on, Mr Trump would only have had that power if he had secured a second term in office. The White House has yet to confirm that the president will nominate a successor.

Mr Kim's departure was all the more surprising because it came three years before the end of his tenure at the global bank. But sources close to him have told US media that he left of his own choosing and was not forced out by the Trump administration.


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His exit and Mr Trump's wielding of influence at the global body will concern developing nations that seek greater representation from emerging markets instead of US hegemony at the institution. They also rely on World Bank lending, which has sought to alleviate poverty around the world, so Mr Trump's decision will matter. As trade tensions rise between the US and China, coupled with rising interest rates in the US, any Trump candidate may change how the bank levers its capital.

Mr Trump could select a candidate who shares his dislike for global institutions and follows his "America First" doctrine. The more hardline Mr Trump's candidate is, the tougher it will be for him to get him or her through the door at the World Bank, experts have said, as any candidate still has to be approved by the lender's executive board.

He had served in the role since 2012, chosen by Mr Obama because of his background as a development professional and not a traditional pick from the financial sector.

Updated: January 8, 2019 08:33 PM