In the wake of the sudden departure of World Trade Organization (WTO) Chief Robert Azevêdo, multiple nominees have been put forward to lead the organization into the next phase, which at the moment feels very uncertain. But one name is missing: That of an American. With two of its largest member countries, the United States and China, in conflict about the WTO’s direction, this is an opportunity to defend the rules-based trading system that the United States founded and professes to value.
Uncertainty and changing attitudes threatened to derail the organization even before the onset of COVID-19. We need a leader to put the WTO back on track so that trade can fuel, rather than hinder, the world economic recovery. That’s why the issues that divide WTO members cannot be ignored or placated away — they must be addressed head-on to reinvigorate a fair and free international trade system.
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