WTO Director-General resigns from office for “personal” reasons

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The Director General of the World Trade Organization, Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, announced his resignation from his post at the end of August, one year before the end of his second term. It is not known who will replace Azevedo, but many observers are already betting on a candidate from Africa, not from within the organization.

The general manager announced To the World Trade Organization, Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, 62, said Thursday during a virtual meeting with representatives of all members of the organization, that he will resign from his post at the end of August, that is, a year before the end of his second term, for personal and family reasons.

“It is a personal decision – a family decision – and I am convinced that this decision is in the interest of the organization,” Azevedo said.

“I have no political plans,” he added, while some have said he aspires to fight the presidential battle in 2022 against President Javier Bolsonaro.

The early departure comes at a time when the global economy is suffering from the largest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s, as international trade was severely affected by the pandemic of the emerging Corona virus, which caused the collapse of production and trade.

Meanwhile, the 164-member organization is already in crisis as trade disputes intensify, for example it has had to suspend the Dispute Settlement Court of Appeals since December 11 because of the United States, which has been blocking the appointment of judges since 2017, which prevents the investigation A quorum that requires the presence of three judges.

Roberto Azevedo, the seasoned diplomat who headed the organization in 2013 to succeed French Pascal Lamy, began his second four-year term in September 2017. His term was supposed to end at the end of August 2021.

Before heading the World Trade Organization, since 2008 Azevedo has been the Permanent Representative of Brazil to this organization, earning his reputation as a consensual negotiator.

During the Azevedo era, members of the World Trade Organization concluded the first ever multilateral agreement when they reached an agreement in Bali in late 2013 on reforming global customs procedures.

But countries have since failed to reach any other multilateral agreements, including on subsidizing the fishing sector, and since 2017 the World Trade Organization has been struggling to engage with a US administration openly hostile to its pluralistic approach.

Since Donald Trump’s arrival at the White House, the world body and its president have been witnessing, unable to do anything, the trade war between the United States and China and the European Union.

It remains to be seen who will replace Azevedo, but many observers are already betting on a candidate from Africa, not from within the organization.

France 24 / AFP