Three Scenarios Emerge in U.S.-China Chess Match at the WTO



Bryce Baschuk | Bloomberg

The World Trade Organization’s next director general will have to walk a fine linebetween the U.S. and China at a moment when each are angling for greater control over the world’s multilateral institutions.

So it’s worth asking, what are the U.S. and China looking for in a WTO leader?

In June U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer established a three-part test for his ideal candidate: The person should understand the need for “fundamental” reform, recognize China has run afoul of the WTO and possess not a “whiff” of anti-Americanism in their background.

As for China, it’s much less clear what kind of a candidate Beijing prefers, and that’s by design.

China’s ambassador to the WTO, Xiangchen Zhang, said this month that a key criteria for the next director general will be his or her “firm belief in the multilateral trading system with strong determination and adequate ability to bring WTO members together.”

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