WTO faces a leaderless future



Doug Palmer | Politico

NEXT STEPS AT THE WTO: Azevêdo is leaving behind a badly fractured organization, as shown by the failure of the group’s 164 members to stick to a plan laid out in 2002, which required them to appoint an interim director general from among the four deputies now in place.

Instead, the membership agreed to extend the terms of the U.S., Chinese, German and Nigerian deputies past Azevêdo’s departure, without putting any one of them in charge. WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell downplayed the impasse, saying that the interim director would have been just an administrative figure and that a permanent replacement should be in place in a few months.

“Understandable that folks in Geneva [are] trying to put a good spin on this,” former senior U.S. trade official Wendy Cutler reacted on Twitter. “But this is damaging. Doesn’t bode well for the WTO at a time when urgent reforms are needed.”

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