The World Trade Organization on Tuesday finalized its selection for the next director general to replace Pascal Lamy, whose term ends Aug. 31.
Roberto Carvalho de Azevêdo of Brazil was picked, making him the first diplomat from Latin America to lead the WTO, which was set up in 1995.
Nine countries presented candidates for the post in December 2012, and it had recently come down to Azevêdo and Mexico’s Herminio Blanco.
Azevêdo, a Brazilian career diplomat, has been the permanent representative of Brazil to the WTO and other international economic organizations in Geneva since 2008. Besides the WTO, he represents Brazil in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the UN Council for Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
“Having joined the Brazilian Foreign Service in 1984, he has since then accumulated vast experience in international economic and trade policy matters, including dispute settlement,” WTO said.
While industry groups worldwide applauded the WTO’s selection, many warned the next secretary general has numerous challenges to reinvigorate the long-term work of the organization.
“The next head of the WTO faces two critical tasks in steering the membership toward a successful outcome to the ministerial conference this December in Indonesia and building consensus toward a broader agenda to modernize trade rules for the digital age,” said National Foreign Trade Council Vice President for Global Trade Issues Jake Colvin in a statement.
Under WTO rules, a general council meeting will be convened no later than May 31, when member countries will be asked to formally make a decision to appoint the new director general.
Lamy is the fifth director general of the WTO. His appointment took effect Sept. 1, 2005 for a four-year term. In April 2009, WTO members reappointed him for a second four-year term, starting Sept. 1, 2009.
He began his career in the French civil service at the Inspection Générale des finances and Treasury. He then became an advisor to Finance Minister Jacques Delors, and subsequently to Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy.
In Brussels from 1985 to 1994, Lamy was chief of staff for then European Commission President Delors and his representative in the G7. In November 1994, he joined the team in charge of rescuing Credit Lyonnais, and later became chief executive officer of the bank until its privatization in 1999. Between 1999 and 2004, Pascal Lamy was EC commissioner for trade under Romano Prodi.