Brazilian press stresses importance of Latin American leader for WTO

2013-04-26 04:49:09 GMT2013-04-26 12:49:09(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Brazil's media highlighted the significance of having a Latin American heading the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Thursday, after Brazilian and Mexican candidates were made finalists for the top job at the global trade body.

Although an official announcement has yet to be made, the Brazilian media are stressing the importance of having someone "from the developing world" at the helm of the multilateral trade institution.

They also highlighted Brazilian candidate Roberto Azevedo, who has been the country's WTO permanent representative since 2008 and lead negotiator in the Doha Development Round.

Azevedo has a long career in Brazil's foreign service, which he joined in 1984, and deep knowledge about the WTO and experience in the institution, Brazilian media said.

He has also represented his country in the World Intellectual Property Organization, the United Nations Council for Trade and Development and the International Telecommunications Union.

He and his rival, Mexico's former trade minister Herminio Blanco, who led Mexico in the NAFTA free trade talks, emerged as the only candidates after the second of three rounds of competition to succeed Frenchman Pascal Lamy on Sept. 1.

An unprecedented nine candidates entered the race including Indonesia's Mari Pangestu, New Zealand's Tim Groser and South Korea's Taeho Bark, who did not garner sufficient support from the 159 member states in the second round. Contenders from Kenya, Ghana, Costa Rica and Jordan had lost the race after the first round earlier this month.

Many WTO members had said the next head of the organization should come from either Latin America or Africa.

The WTO has been led by a representative from a developing country before, but never for a full term. An ugly battle in the 1999 race led to Thailand and New Zealand splitting the post, in the wake of Irish and Italian chiefs.

But with only Brazil and Mexico left in the race this time, developing nations are sure to take full control of the top job.

The new WTO director general, who will emerge by the end of May, faces an uphill battle to revive long-stalled talks and restore confidence in the WTO's ability to negotiate a global trade deal.

Created in 1995, the WTO aims to advance global trade talks to spur growth by opening markets and removing trade barriers, including subsidies, excessive taxes and regulations.

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