Brazilian Ambassador Roberto Azevêdo on Sunday started his four-year term as director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), becoming the sixth person to hold this position.
He succeeded former French WTO director-general Pascal Lamy who held the position for eight years.
“The WTO and the multilateral trading system are at an important crossroads,” Azevêdo said in his welcome message, adding that the decisions that the WTO’s 159 members make in the coming months would determine the path the organisation took as it set out to strengthen and support the multilateral trading system.
He added that the ninth Ministerial Conference (MC9), to be held in Bali from December 3 to 6, was a key priority.
“A successful meeting there will provide a much needed shot in the arm for the global economy and the WTO. I believe that a deal can be struck despite the short time we have between now and Bali. I shall do everything I can to see that agreement is reached. But there is no such thing as a sure thing and a great deal of work and commitment are required in the coming weeks if we are to succeed,” he said.
Meanwhile, WTO general council chair, Ambassador Shahid Bashir announced that the WTO general council would hold a special meeting on September 9 to welcome the new director-general.
He added that, at the end of this meeting, he intended to announce, in cooperation with Azevêdo, the intensification of the WTO’s work in preparation for Bali, starting with a focus on the shape of MC9, including its outcome document.
Azevêdo was appointed as director-general by the WTO general council on May 14 and would make his first international appearance at the G20 Leaders’ Summit taking place in Saint Petersburg from September 5 to 7.