WTO DG race narrows

The World Trade Organization will begin consultations next week on two candidates to replace Pascal Lamy, the body’s director general, and hopes to name a successor by May 7.

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The Geneva-based WTO will accept comments from its members on the candidates, Mexico’s Herminio Blanco and Brazil’s Roberto Azevedo, starting on May 1, said Shahid Bashir, the chairman of the WTO’s General Council.

A decision could come the following week, Mr. Bashir said.

The selected candidate will take the helm of an organization that has floundered since launching the Doha Round of global trade talks in November 2001. The Doha Round hasn’t produced significant results in reducing trade barriers, raising worries that global negotiations could devolve into regional talks.

Earlier this week, the WTO narrowed a list of five candidates to Messrs. Blanco and Azevedo, who represent Latin America’s two biggest economies, after a round of discussions with members of the 159 country trade body.

The three other candidates–Indonesia’s Mari Pangestu, New Zealand’s Tim Groser and South Korea’s Taeho Bark–withdrew from the race on Friday, according to a WTO spokesman. The contest for the director general position, which has a four-year term, started on Jan. 29 with nine candidates.

Mr. Azevedo is Brazil’s ambassador to the WTO. He has a reputation as a skilled negotiator, but lacks ministerial experience. In his campaign for the post, Mr. Blanco stressed his role in leading Mexico in the talks to launch the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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