Renata Amaral Speaks to CNN Brasil on WTO Director General's Announcement of his Departure From Role

On May 14, 2020, the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Roberto Azevêdo, announced he is stepping down from his position on August 31, 2020 cutting his second term short by exactly one year. He is serving his second four-year term as Director General.

This is sad news for the international trade community, and the announcement comes in extremely difficult times for WTO. The WTO has been facing increased criticism from its Members, particularly from the Trump Administration, which has continually criticized and disregarded its authority. It is also facing increasing financial shortfalls from diminished international trade stemming from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Renata Amaral, the Co-Director of AUWCL’s trade summer program on WTO & U.S. Trade Law and Policy was interviewed by CNN Brasil about the subject and spoke on Mr. Azevêdo’s departure: “Roberto Azevêdo has been an extremely skilled director for the WTO. His diplomatic skills will be missed, especially in such challenging times for the world during the pandemic, and particularly for the multilateral trading system.”

According to Azevêdo’s speech, the reasoning behind the decision and particularly the timing of his departure would allow Members to select his successor in the coming months, without diverting political energy and attention from preparations for the Twelfth Ministerial Conference, which is set to be held in 2021.

It is necessary that WTO Members can quickly agree on strong leadership to replace and continue the work made by Azevêdo, and take this opportunity to restore the multilateral trading system in all its relevance.