The WTO Leadership Race

Improving global governance
Posted Sep 14, 2020 | CSIS Scholl Chair

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has concluded only one multilateral agreement in its 25 years of existence, the Trade Facilitation Agreement. All other efforts either failed or are struggling. In this article, the CSIS Scholl Chair discusses recent developments and asks what a new Director-General (DG) will mean for the WTO, international trade, and global economy. The DG’s role is administrative: Supervising the WTO Secretariat, which is tasked with providing independent support to WTO members. As the WTO operates on the basis of consensus, there is no election per se, but a process to reach a consensus in favour of one of the eight candidates put forward by WTO member states. The decision will hinge on whether an “inside” candidate is wanted - one with long experience in the WTO - or an “outside” candidate - a person of stature who does not have extensive WTO experience. Both are represented among the candidates.


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