The 63 year old, who is from Brazil, has been the director general of WTO since September 2013 and was re elected in September 2017. As the first director general from Latin America and BRICs countries, azewido enjoys the reputation of consensus builder during his term of office.
For the early departure, azewido said it was a personal decision in line with the best interests of the WTO. In the moment of what novel coronavirus pneumonia is affecting the global economy, the organization can do nothing now, can not negotiate and stop everything. If I continue to stay in office, nothing will change. Azewido believes that a new director general should be elected to inject new vitality into the organization.
Subsequently, the WTO said that the selection of the new director general was scheduled to begin on 8 June local time, and member states could nominate candidates for the new director general within one month before 8 July.
New leader battle
In addition to the four official candidates, a number of trade-related officials from Europe and Africa are also considered potential candidates.
In the EU, four officials are considered potential candidates.
In Africa, Kenyas sports and culture minister, Amina Mohamed, and Benins ambassador to the United Nations, Eloi laorou, are seen as potential candidates.
Given that the EU and the US are the main competitors shaping global trade leadership, there is an analysis that the two sides are expected to compete fiercely for candidates. Disagreements over the candidates may further aggravate the rift between the members.
Previously, Sabine Weyand, director general of the trade division of the European Commission, said publicly on the issue of candidates, an unwritten rule, the director general always alternates between developing and developed countries. Therefore, there is a view that the new director general should be European in principle.
Reuters quoted sources as saying that this time female officials and Africans may be the focus of consideration.
According to the analysis, in view of the large number of candidates, one of the selection focuses is whether European and African countries can unite behind the same candidate.
Europe also called for the election of only one candidate to improve the odds. At a video conference on June 9, trade ministers from France, Belgium and Germany stressed the need for a strong WTO in the face of crisis and the need to make the organization better and more efficient. Croatia, the EUs rotating presidency, said that countries would hold formal discussions on the unified election of EU candidates next month, while the Netherlands and other countries proposed that the EU should not exclude non EU candidates who support like-minded.
So far, however, neither the Au nor the EU has been able to persuade Member States to reach a consensus on jointly selecting the best candidate. More than half of the nomination time has passed, leaving them little time.
The United States is still likely to influence the selection of a new director general. German focus weekly commented.
A source told the media that although the United States threatened to withdraw from the WTO, it was not willing to let go. The trump administration is urging countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia to find a candidate to push for reform in line with the U.S. plan.
At the same time, according to Australian media reports, the trump administration is urging Australia to help find a convincing candidate to run the WTO in order to promote reform of the troubled rulemaking body.
Difficulties of new leader
No matter whos going to spend money, its a consensus that the new leader is difficult.
At present, the WTO has been in a deep dilemma. The three functions of dispute settlement, multilateral trade negotiation and trade policy supervision have been hindered, and calls for reform are increasing. However, due to different demands of members and different priorities for reform, how to coordinate the positions of all parties and promote reform will be the first problem facing the new director general.
According to German economic weekly, the next director general will face many challenges. Novel coronavirus pneumonia, including trade protectionism and the economic recovery after the outbreak of the new crown pneumonia. The new director general also needs to advance negotiations and develop new rules for e-commerce.
WTO is facing a dual crisis of legitimacy and efficiency. This means that the task of the next director general is very arduous, wiender said frankly. people seem to be forming a new understanding that what the next director general needs is not technocrats, negotiators or diplomats, but ministers who can meet all challenges and have political brains.
Simon Evenett, a professor of international trade at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, said that the new Director-General needed to reunite the WTO and required all major members to respect its authority, so it would be better for someone with deep political qualifications or high global status to take on the role.
Of course, the first thing is to choose a new leader. Reuters said it was a tough task for an organization that has not reached a major international agreement for many years and expects to decide its leaders through consensus.
If the WTO is unable to confirm the new director general by August 31, the General Council shall appoint a current deputy director general as acting director general until the appointment of the new director general.