Roberto Azevêdo, Brazil’s current ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO), will succeed Pascal Lamy as the director-general of the organization on September 1, 2013, becoming the first Latin American to head the WTO since its creation in 1995. A formal announcement is expected today.
Azevêdo claimed the spot over Herminio Blanco, Mexico’s former Trade Minister and chief negotiator for the North America Free-Trade Agreement, in the final round of the six-month selection process which began in December. While Blanco had the support of the influential members such as the European Union, a majority of the WTO’s 159 member-states voted in favor of the Brazilian. Some analysts believe that Brazil’s active role in protecting the interests of developing countries during global trade negotiations contributed to Azevêdo’s popularity.
Azevêdo, who first joined the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the WTO in 1997, will face several challenges as director-general. He will be responsible for reviving the Doha round of talks, which were officially launched in 2001, and maintaining the organization’s relevance as regional and bilateral trade agreements grow in scope. Azevêdo will head his first biennial meeting in Bali, Indonesia this December.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim on Saturday in Geneva announced that Argentina is on track in 2010 to become Brazil’s largest trade partner behind China, replacing the United States in second position. The announcement was shared at the eighth annual International Institute for Strategic Studies meeting.
Bilateral trade between the two Mercosur-member countries is projected to reach up to $34 billion by the end of this year. This comes despite trade relations between Argentina and Brazil being strained at times. Brazil has periodically been accused of using unfair non-tariff policies to favor its import-competing industries. Addressing the need for improved bilateral trade relations with Argentina, Amorim recently called for “a leap forward in [liberating] the services and investment sectors.”
Amorim will continue trade discussions during his European tour and will meet with Pascal Lamy, director general for the World Trade Organization.
Mexican milk producers will go to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to demand that the U.S. raises the price of milk it exports to Mexico. Alvaro González Muñoz, the head of the Frente Nacional de Productores y Consumidores de Leche—a national organization of dairy industry stakeholders—said that thousands of Mexican milk producers have gone out of business in recent years because of the low prices of American milk, a result of U.S. government subsidies.
In Mexico, milk producers cannot afford to sell their product for less than five pesos ($0.38) per liter, but the price of U.S. milk imports range from 2.80 to 3.20 pesos ($0.21 to $0.24) per liter. For González Muñoz, bad economic times means that the minimum price of milk should not be lower than 5.50 pesos ($0.41) per liter for the milk industry to survive. The head of the Mexican milk industry admits that bringing the case before the WTO is going to be a long and complicated process, but sees it as necessary since other industries are being affected as well.