Brazilian becomes new head of global trade organization

Updated: 2013-05-09 02:04

By Ding Qingfen (China Daily)

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WTO: Tough road ahead for Azevedo

Sun Zhenyu, head of the China Society for WTO Studies and former Chinese ambassador to the WTO, said in an interview with China Daily that Azevedo will "bring fresh phenomena" to the WTO, emerging countries led by China, and the Doha Round of talks in particular.

China has said it unswervingly advocates a multilateral global trade system, and has called for the WTO and some of its member nations to prioritize the Doha Round of talks, while saying that regional and bilateral trade pacts are important.

Sun said, "Azevedo's background brings the WTO and emerging countries closer and facilitates communications between developed and developing countries."

Azevedo, 55, has been closely linked to the WTO since its creation and, before becoming Brazil's ambassador to the organization in 2008. He was his country's chief negotiator for the Doha Round.

Zhang said, "He is an insider with much experience and has excellent capabilities of dealing with global trade issues. ... Most important, he advocates a multilateral trade system."

Arduous job

In the race for the WTO leadership, Azevedo beat eight other candidates.

Li Zhongzhou, a former official from the Ministry of Commerce and former member of the team that negotiated China's entry to the WTO in 2001, said: "His success is welcome among the emerging economies, but the job will be arduous and the challenges will be huge.

"It's time to sit down and get to the real business, with the (leadership) campaign over."

Zhang Xiangchen agreed, saying: "It leaves a big question mark on whether Azevedo will successfully bring the WTO and Doha talks out of this impasse. This is not an easy job - a task that Lamy himself has failed to deliver during the past decade."

Gao said China expects Azevedo to lead the WTO to reach an early harvest program agreement, thus concluding the Doha talks.

WTO member nations have reached consensus on launching the early harvest program, which will facilitate convenience of trade and reduce trade costs. Agreement is expected to be concluded at the WTO's ministerial conference in Bali, Indonesia, in December.

Sun said the three major tasks the new WTO head will have to fulfill will be completing the early harvest program of the Doha talks by the end of the year, addressing rapidly rising trade protectionism worldwide, and balancing multilateral and regional trade talks.

"The first priority is the early harvest program, which when completed, will be a good restart for the Doha talks."

The key will lie in how to communicate and persuade the US to come back to the WTO from the regional trade talks, Sun said.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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