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WTO chief offers to serve a second term

Roberto Azevêdo, who became the World Trade Organization’s director-general on Sept. 1, 2013, informed his membership that he’s willing to serve a second term.

   Roberto Azevêdo, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) director-general, informed his membership that he’s willing to serve a second term.
   “I stand ready to serve as director-general for a second term,” Azevêdo wrote in a letter to Harald Naple, chairman of the WTO General Council, on Thursday. “I would welcome the opportunity to continue working to strengthen the multilateral trading system in the service of growth and development around the world.”
   Azevêdo’s current term as the global trade body’s chief expires Aug. 31, 2017.
   He became WTO director-general on Sept. 1, 2013. During his time in office, he’s been credited with strengthening the WTO dispute settlement process, overseeing the addition of five new members (Yemen, Seychelles, Kazakhstan, Liberia and Afghanistan), increasing technical assistance and capacity building, and enhancing its monitoring to ensure adherence by members to WTO rules.
   Also during this period, the WTO ushered an updated Information Technology Agreement and implemented the long-awaited Trade Facilitation Agreement.
   “I am confident that the WTO stands stronger today than it did in 2013,” Azevêdo said. “We are now in a position to build on these achievements.”
   He pointed out that in the immediate years ahead, there are further opportunities to “strengthen the global trading system,” especially among developing country members.
   “There remains important work to do to continue developing all areas of our work, from capacity building to dispute settlement to monitoring, research and analysis, and beyond,” Azevêdo said. “On the negotiating front, members have committed to advancing the remaining Doha issues, while many have also raised other issues for discussion.
   “The precise route forward will be determined by members, but there is no question that levels of engagement and interest are high, and that recent successes have energized this work thereby increasing the likelihood that significant further progress can be made,” he added.
   Azevêdo joined Brazil’s Foreign Service in 1984 and his first diplomatic posting was to Washington in 1988. He served on WTO dispute settlement panels after being assigned to Geneva in 1997. From 2006 to 2008, he was vice-minister for economic and technological affairs for Brazil’s Foreign Ministry and became the country’s chief trade negotiator for the Doha Round and other WTO issues. In 2008, Azevêdo was appointed permanent representative of Brazil to the WTO.
   However, Azevêdo’s succession to a second term as WTO director-general is not a sure thing. The trade body’s members may nominate other candidates for the position. These nominations must be received by Naple no later than Dec. 31. The nominations and supporting information will then be distributed to the WTO members for consideration. The WTO General Council will determine its pick for director-general by May 31, 2017.

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