Brazil's Azevedo becomes first Latin American to head WTO

Tue May 7, 2013 6:36pm 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 BRICS 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, who steps down on August 31.

The result of the selection process was meant to be secret until a formal announcement on Wednesday, but the Brazilian government confirmed on Tuesday that Azevedo, 55, won by a wide margin.

Azevedo will become the first Latin American and the first representative of a BRICS nation to head the Geneva-based trade body since its creation in 1995, a sign of the rising clout of emerging economies as developed countries struggle to recover from the 2008 financial crisis.

"For Brazil it is clear that, given his commitment and experience, he would be able to lead the organization toward a path of a fairer and more dynamic global economic order," Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said in a statement.

"This is not a victory for Brazil, nor for a group of countries, but for the World Trade Organisation."

Brazil and Mexico, often seen as regional rivals, had pushed the case for their candidates, seeking to cement their status as growing powers.   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