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Sunday, 12 July 2020

European head of WTO would be "wonderful" says EU trade chief

Reuters , Friday 29 May 2020
World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters at sunrise, May 28, 2020, Geneva. (AFP)
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Europe should have a candidate to become the next head of the World Trade Organization, EU trade chief Phil Hogan said on Thursday, describing the prospect of a future European head as "wonderful".

Brazilian Director-General Roberto Azevedo will quit at the end of August, a year earlier than expected.

"Of course we will look forward to having a European candidate," EU trade commissioner Hogan told the trade committee of the European Parliament.

"It would be wonderful to have a European candidate elected to the director general of the WTO at a time when we need an organisation to be reformed, to be made more effective and efficient, to adapt the rules to the new realities of the 21st century," he continued.

One name often cited by analysts is Spanish foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya, who was chief of staff for former WTO chief Pascal Lamy.

She told Reuters on Thursday she had a "full plate" with her current job and was "100% devoted" to serving her country in difficult circumstances due to the coronavirus crisis.

"It is a process that has barely started, a discussion that the EU has to have," she said.

Nominations can be made from June 8 to July 8.

With three of the previous six directors-general from Europe and the others from Thailand, Brazil and New Zealand, there is pressure to choose a leader from Africa.

Finding a successor is unlikely to be easy at a time of global tensions exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including strained U.S-China relations and rising protectionism.

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