By Julius Businge & Agencies
Reports from foreign media say Brazil’s Roberto Azevêdo has emerged as the new director-general of the World Trade Organisation after seeing off Herminio Blanco of Mexico, the favoured candidate of the US and EU, according to officials familiar with the contest.
Both Latin American rivals coveted the WTO position as a means to elevate their countries’ influence and cement their status as rising powers.
Azevêdo beat his rival Mexico’s candidate Herminio Blanco who made visits to various countries including Uganda. Reports say Azevêdo faces a major challenge to restore the credibility of an organisation that has failed to conclude the Doha round of global trade negotiations.
Although votes in the WTO selection process are secret, reports say the US was said to have backed Mr Blanco, though it was not opposed to Azevêdo. The EU’s 27 member states on Tuesday also decided to back Blanco en masse, though they, too, did not object to Azevêdo. Before the final vote, Mexican officials claimed the backing of Japan and South Korea, while Brazilian officials said China was on their side.
Azevêdo will be the first WTO chief from Latin America.
Azevêdo is a career diplomat and Brazil’s current WTO ambassador. Supporters say his knowledge of the institution and broad backing across many emerging markets could help bridge the north-south split within the WTO and reinvigorate talks ahead of a December ministerial conference in Bali.