World Trade Organization names Brazilian as new chief

Brazil's Roberto Azevedo wins the leadership of the World Trade Organization, the Brazilian government announced. Azevedo, currently Brazil's ambassador to the 159-nation WTO, won out over the former Mexican trade chief Herminio Blanco.
Credit: Fabrice Coffrini

GENEVA, Switzerland — Roberto Azevedo, a top Brazilian trade diplomat, will replace Pascal Lamy as the head of the WTO in September, the Brazilian government said.

The World Trade Organization is expected to formally announce Roberto Azevedo's new post Wednesday.

He will be the first Latin American director of the 159-nation organization since its creation in 1995. 

The WTO picks its chiefs through consensus.

The selection process took six months and saw Azevedo go head to head with Mexico's former trade minister, Herminio Blanco.

In a statement, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, said:

"This is not just a victory for Brazil or a group of countries, but for the whole WTO."

Azevedo, who has represented Brazil at the WTO since 2008, insists his nationality will not affect the direction he chooses for the organization.

Many in the developed world will are expecting Azevdeo to take their side in the divide that splits them from developed nations in the WTO negotiations. The world's developed economies tend to favor removing trade restrictions, while developing nations often want to selectively keep them until their own national sectors are strong enough to compete wtih foreign rivals. 

Brazil is the world’s seventh largest economy. But the US has chided the Latin American nation for dragging its feet in the multilateral talks to remove tariffs and other barriers to international trade.

Azevedo will certainly have his work cut-out for him. 

After the collapse of the Doha round of trade talks - 10 years in the making - the Geneva-based organization has significantly scaled back its ambitions.

DW quoted Jake Colvin of the US business group National Foreign Trade Council as saying of the appointment: "The next head of the WTO faces two critical tasks in steering the membership toward a successful outcome to the ministerial conference this December in Indonesia and building consensus toward a broader agenda to modernize trade rules for the digital age."

GlobalPost's Simeon Tegel contributed reporting from Lima, Peru. 

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