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US, European officials to move quickly to replace departing WTO leader

US and European Union officials say they want to move rapidly to replace the head of the World Trade Organisation after director-general Roberto Azevedo unexpectedly announced plans to step down on August

19 May 2020 - 19:00

US and European Union officials say they want to move rapidly to replace the head of the World Trade Organisation after director-general Roberto Azevedo unexpectedly announced plans to step down on August. 31, a year before his term expires.

'It is essential that we quickly chart a new path ahead at this critical and uncertain time for trade,' EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said in a statement after Mr Azevedo's announcement.



US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer praised Mr Azevedo despite the organisation's 'many shortcomings' and said the Trump administration looks forward to participating in the search process 'in the coming months'.



The 62-year-old Brazilian has served as director-general since September 2013 and his second four-year term began in September 2017.



Now, the contest to replace him will give the US and China another arena in their battle for economic hegemony by expanding their influence at the top levels of international organisations.



Currently, Chinese nationals lead three UN agencies - the International Telecommunication Union, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the International Civil Aviation Organisation.



The Trump administration has increasingly sought to counter China's international diplomacy campaign.



Last month, the US successfully displaced a Chinese candidate who was vying to become next director-general of the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Members of the Geneva-based organisation ultimately selected Daren Tang from Singapore.


SeaNews Turkey

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