The current WTO Director-General will leave early, goodbye! Azevedo
On July 23, local time, the WTO held a meeting of the General Council. The current WTO Director-General Azevedo attended the last time as Director-General. After the meeting, Azevedo held a press conference to bid farewell to media reporters. Azevedo will leave his post early on August 31 and resign as director general. Azevedo has been the Director-General of the World Trade Organization since 2013, and his second term was originally to end at the end of August next year.
At the General Council, Azevedo stated that his 23-year career has been related to the WTO, and there are many happy moments but also disappointments. But even at the lowest point, in the past 23 years, it has never questioned the role of this system in improving the lives of people around the world. It has achieved a lot and is proud of it, but there is still much to be done. Azevedo wishes the next Director-General can successfully meet these challenges.
Azevedo also thanked his family for their support and said that after careful consideration, he decided to resign as Director General and did not regret leaving early. Azevedo pointed out that due to the epidemic, the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference will be postponed until next year. If you complete the last one-year term, the selection process for the new Director-General will overlap with the preparations for the 12th Ministerial Conference. Therefore, Choose to leave early so that the WTO can elect a successor director-general in advance.
Looking back on the seven-year tenure, Azevedo said that he would give himself 12 points under the scoring standard of 1-10 points. In 2013, the Bali Ministerial Conference passed the "Trade Facilitation Agreement", and the Nairobi Ministerial Conference two years later The Shanghai members agreed to abolish agricultural export subsidies.
However, because the United States blocked the selection of new judges for the WTO Appellate Body, the Appellate Body was suspended and the WTO dispute settlement mechanism was basically paralyzed. Azevedo emphasized that the current priority is for all members to reach an agreement to prove that the multilateral trading system is still feasible. One major challenge facing the WTO is the dispute settlement mechanism. If the dispute settlement mechanism fails to function normally, the WTO will not be able to fully perform its functions. First, it will lose the tools to depoliticize the problem and resolve trade and economic issues. Second, it will lose the functioning enforcement system and affect the negotiation rules. Members will consider how to ensure the implementation of the agreements reached.
Azevedo also pointed out that another major challenge in the WTO is how to use its rules to ease trade frictions. Azevedo also mentioned challenges in other areas, such as digital trade, e-commerce, SMEs, and domestic service trade supervision. Faced with these challenges, Azevedo also provided his own advice for the next Director-General, that is, be prepared to deal with anything that may change rapidly. It may be a political or natural event, or it may be a sudden catastrophe, or a virus from an unknown source, leading to the worst recession in recent years in an age of peace. The WTO is seen as a slow-moving organization that takes a certain amount of time to respond to emergencies, but it must be prepared to respond quickly.
At present, eight candidates for the new director-general of the WTO are in the "election" stage. According to WTO regulations, after Azevedo officially resigns on August 31, a current deputy director-general will serve as acting director-general until the appointment of the new director-general. Officer. There are four deputy director-generals in the WTO, namely Yunuf Aga from Nigeria, Karl Ernst Bronner from Germany, Alan Wolfe from the United States and Yi Xiaozhun from China. The WTO is expected to convene the General Council again before the end of July to determine the candidate for acting Director General. (Headquarters reporter Zhu He)