Ivanka Trump, President Trump’s daughter and senior advisor in the White House, will reportedly be considered to take over as the next head of the World Bank, replacing its outgoing president Jim Yong Kim. The Trump administration, with the special sway held by U.S. presidents at the bank, will submit a list of recommendations to replace the outgoing president.
President Trump had previously tried to put his daughter up as a replacement ambassador to the United Nations after the resignation of Nikki Haley, but relented amid widespread accusations of nepotism. “So nice, everyone wants Ivanka Trump to be the new United Nations Ambassador. She would be incredible,” President Trump wrote on Twitter at the time, “but I can already hear the chants of Nepotism! We have great people that want the job.”
It is likely that he will face similar public opposition this time around, insofar as the dynamic is the same. Haley’s name will reportedly also be on the list of recommendations submitted to the World Bank by the Trump administration, along with those of Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs David Malpass and head of the Agency for International Development Mark Green.
The president of the United States typically submits such a list to the D.C.-based international financial institution, which was founded at the end of the Second World War with the expressed purpose of financing international development projects. The president of the bank is, likewise, typically an American, someone approved by the board from the U.S. administration’s list of suggestions thanks to the U.S. government’s position as the bank’s largest shareholder.
Mr. Kim, who was appointed by former president Barack Obama, stepped down suddenly at the start of the new year, more than three years before the scheduled end of his tenure in 2022. His decision was reportedly made over conflicts between the bank’s leadership and the Trump administration over a number of issues, climate change and a lack of resources chief among them. Kim had cut off the World Bank’s support for coal-power investments and was pushing a green initiative at the institution, an initiative at obvious odds with the industrial interests of the Trump administration.
“The opportunity to join the private sector was unexpected,” Mr. Kim said in an email to employees announcing his decision to leave the bank and join an infrastructure investment firm, “but I’ve concluded that this is the path through which I will be able to make the largest impact on major global issues like climate change and the infrastructure deficit in emerging markets.” Kim said that he would leave the bank on February first, turning the reins over to the interim president, CEO Kristalina Georgieva. The next president will, most likely, be appointed for a five year term once chosen.
Other than her familial ties to the person submitting the list of names, it is unclear what experience Ivanka Trump has that qualifies her for the position. Prior to joining the Trump White House, she worked for her father’s Trump Organization, modeled, and started a clothing and fashion line that she shut down last year.
“After 17 months in Washington, I do not know when or if I will ever return to the business, but I do know that my focus for the foreseeable future will be the work I am doing here in Washington, so making this decision now is the only fair outcome for my team and partners,” she said last July. In the months leading up to that decision, major retailers like Nordstrom and the Hudson Bay Company had pulled her products from their shelves, citing poor sales. Ms. Trump’s father, the president, lashed out at Nordstrom on Twitter in response to the news.
Mr. Kim, the outgoing president of the bank, is a physician and anthropologist whose career has included leading the World Health Organization’s HIV/AIDS department, co-founding the international medical non-profit Partners for Health, teaching at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, and working as the president of Dartmouth College. Neither he nor the Trump administration has yet commented on the plans for his replacement.
Despite Kim’s lengthy resume, he did not have much to do with development prior to his work at the Bank, and at the time of his nomination in 2012 there was renewed criticism of the World Bank’s practice of accepting American nominees over more qualified international alternatives. “When economists from the World Bank visit poor countries to dispense cash and advice, they routinely tell governments to reject cronyism and fill each important job with the best candidate available. It is good advice. The World Bank should take it,” read an article from the time in The Economist supporting the appointment of Nigeria’s finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala over Mr. Kim. The World Bank faces similar criticism for its abeyance to powerful Western countries and for the exploitative qualities that hound its efforts at development.
“It has been a great honor to serve as President of this remarkable institution, full of passionate individuals dedicated to the mission of ending extreme poverty in our lifetime,” Mr. Kim said in a statement. “The work of the World Bank Group is more important now than ever as the aspirations of the poor rise all over the world, and problems like climate change, pandemics, famine and refugees continue to grow in both their scale and complexity.”