Brazil Nominates Ambassador Azevedo to Lead WTO / by Mark Langevin

MercoPress reports that Brazil’s Foreign Ministry announced on Dec. 29, 2012 that the country’s Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO) would be nominated for the Director General of the WTO.  MercoPress reports that Ambassador Azevedo joins,

“eight other candidates who have thrown their hats into the ring, including South Korean Trade Minister Taeho Bark. Costa Rica, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico and New Zealand have also put forward candidates.”

Accordingly, Azevedo’s candidacy reflects Brazil growing global leadership role as well as the importance it places on the WTO as an essential institution of international trade regulation.  Indeed, in its press release the Foreign Ministry reminded readers that Brazil is a founding member of the WTO and has played a leading role in the development of the multilateral trading system and is certainly a key player in the Doha round of negotiations.  Clearly, Ambassador Azevedo has played a central role in articulating Brazil’s preferences and working through the many conflicts that have so far stymied the Doha negotiations, including the current ongoing saga of the case against U.S. cotton subsidies.

The WTO faces an important moment as increasing numbers of countries raise tariff and non-tariff barriers to cope with the global economic downswing, including Brazil.  Brazil seeks to work through the WTO to improve trading conditions, including raising the issue of “currency misalignment” that has a measureable impact on export competitiveness around the world.

Over the last decade I have followed the cotton case and come to an appreciation of Ambassador Azevedo’s work and challenges. During the past year, in my role as International Advisor to the Brazilian Cotton Growers Association (ABRAPA), I have met up with Ambassador Azevedo and exchanged ideas about the cotton case.  While I am in no position to endorse any candidate, I do believe that the WTO would be well served by a Brazilian with the professional expertise and political patience that Ambassador Azevedo has demonstrated in his role at the WTO.

If member states are serious about overcoming the political and economic hurdles to coming to a groundbreaking Doha agreement, or simply trying to improve the trading system so that more nations enjoy the fruits of expanding exports and imports, then Ambassador Azevedo would be a sensible pick.

I will be rooting for the Ambassador, Brazil, and what both can bring to the commanding heights of global governance.