Brazil's Azevedo wins race to head WTO

Tue May 7, 2013 5:05pm EDT
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By Tom Miles

GENEVA (Reuters) - Brazil's Roberto Azevedo has won the race to become the next head of the World Trade Organization, the first candidate from the BRIC club of emerging economies to take the job.

The career trade diplomat now faces a huge challenge to reinvigorate the global body, which has failed to wrap up the Doha trade liberalization talks after years of stalemate and risks becoming irrelevant without a breakthrough.

Azevedo beat Mexico's Herminio Blanco, widely seen as the favored choice of the United States, in the final round of the contest to succeed France's Pascal Lamy on Tuesday.

The result of the selection process was meant to be secret until a formal announcement on Wednesday but diplomats close to the talks named him as the winning candidate on Tuesday and he later confirmed his victory on his website.

"My candidacy had a very broad base of support from all kinds of countries," Azevedo wrote.

He will become the first Latin American to head the trade body since its creation in 1995 once Lamy steps down on Aug 31.

Both Brazil and Mexico had pushed the case for their candidates hard, seeking to cement their status as growing economic powers.

Azevedo, who has up to now been Brazil's ambassador to the WTO, had touted his ability to listen to all sides in a negotiation and to find solutions by quietly building consensus, a contrast with Blanco's idea of using the business sector to force governments to make deals happen.   Continued...

Roberto Azevedo, Brazil's permanent representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO), speaks during an interview with Reuters in London March 14, 2013. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor