Brazil WTO hopeful brushes off protectionist complaints

in In the News
May 2nd, 2013

From Reuters
By Alonso Soto
May 2, 2013

(Reuters) – Brazil’s candidate to head the World Trade Organization brushed off criticism from rich nations that his country is growing more protectionist, saying he will be a neutral negotiator of global trade frictions if he gets the job this month.

Roberto Azevedo, a diplomat who has represented Brazil at the WTO for years, is running against Mexico’s Herminio Blanco, a key player in the creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), to become the first Latin American to lead the organization which sets the rule for global trade…

Blanco was Mexico’s negotiator of the mid-1990s NAFTA treaty with the United States and Canada and a consultant in other free trade deals. In recent decades, Mexico has embraced free trade with a dozen such pacts encompassing 44 countries, its trade ministry says.

That would seem to make him a shoo-in to head the WTO, whose mandate is not just to supervise world trade but to work to liberalize global trade flows.

However, his proximity to free-trade deals reached outside the WTO could be a handicap in the final round of the race, particularly among the developing world weary of global trade policy dominance by wealthy nations like the United States.

Mexico’s close links to U.S.-styled free trade policies makes Azevedo a more appealing choice for developing nations, said Kevin Gallagher, an international relations professor at Boston University.

“Most developing countries are at a stage of trade liberalization closer to that of Brazil than of Mexico,” Gallagher said. “I think more developing countries will trust Brazil than Mexico.”

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