Skip to main content

World Trade Organization members are likely to refrain from appointing an interim director-general to succeed Roberto Azevedo when he steps down at the end of August, two sources following the process said on Wednesday, after Washington’s insistence on a U.S. candidate caused a deadlock.

Under the new proposal, instead of appointing one of four deputies to serve as interim chief until Azevedo’s replacement is chosen later this year, those officials, from the United States, China, Germany and Nigeria, would keep their current responsibilities.

“The U.S. is insisting on an American, but China and Europe put the brakes on that,” said a former WTO official familiar with the current process.

Story continues below advertisement

A decision to finalize the interim arrangement could come as early as this week when WTO members are expected to meet. A new, permanent director-general is due to be named on by Nov. 7.

The WTO has been under acute pressure and unable to resolve disputes because of criticism from President Donald Trump’s U.S. administration.

No comment was immediately available from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office in Washington, or from a WTO spokesman.

Some members say the say the controversy over the caretaker role, an administrative job described as a WTO official as “making sure the trains run on time,” bodes ill for the choice of director-general, which members must make by consensus.

“It’s just a figurehead role. If we can’t even decide on the interim, how will we choose a DG?” said one delegate.

However, others following the process saw the absence of on an interim leader as a good thing as it could put pressure on WTO members to move forward on selecting a successor for Azevedo, who is the first chief in WTO history to leave early.

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

Follow related topics

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies