The World Trade Organization is down to five candidates to replace Director-General Pascal Lamy when his term expires at the end of August this year.
Among some of the major issues facing the next director-general is the increase in regional free-trade agreements amid stalled multilateral talks on lowering trade barriers.
The final candidates hail from Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, New Zealand and South Korea. The WTO General Council is expected to narrow down the pool to two candidates by April 24.
Roberto Carvalho de Azevedo, Brazil
- Since 2008, Azevedo has represented Brazil at the WTO and several other international economic organizations.
- Azevedo on stalled trade negotiations:
- “[G]lobal conditions will never be perfect for negotiations. When world economic growth is strong, some argue that there is no real incentive to negotiate. When growth is poor, the theory is that members will be less inclined to open their markets.”
- Read full statement to the General Council here.
Mari Elka Pangestu, Indonesia
Pangestu has been Indonesia’s minister of tourism and creative economy since 2011 and previously was trade minister from 2004 to 2011.
Pangestu on regional fair trade agreements:
“The reality of today is that most countries have bilateral and regional agreements on their national agendas. Without going into the why's of this trend, what will be important is how WTO needs to deal with these ongoing processes.”
Herminio Blanco, Mexico
From 1994 to 2000, Blanco served as Mexico’s minister of trade and industry. From 2000 to 2012, he worked in the private sector as a trade policy and international economics consultant.
Blanco on global development:
“Although the WTO has the tools to provide developing countries, and particularly the least developed countries, with a powerful lever for development and job creation, members still have to fully deliver to make this a reality.”
Tim Groser, New Zealand
Since 2008, Groser has served as New Zealand’s minster of trade, minister for climate change issues and associate minister of foreign affairs.
Groser on the WTO’s reputation:
“This institution [the WTO] should be the absolute center of trade policy thinking -- the 'go-to' place for young and ambitious trade policy thinkers coming up through their systems. Twenty-five years ago we were in that space. We are not there today.”
Taeho Bark, South Korea
Bark has been South Korea’s minister of foreign affairs and trade since December 2011. Prior to that he was chairman of the Korea Trade Commission from 2007 to 2010.
Bark on global development:
“Trade has special meaning for developing countries, as it can be an important tool for economic development. Special and differential treatment must be in keeping with that aim, and should be about creating more opportunities for the products of developing countries.”