Commissioner Hogan considering his candidacy for WTO chief

Trade commissioner Phil Hogan is considering putting his name forward as a candidate to be the next director-general of the World Trade Organisation, his spokesman said on Sunday cited by Reuters. The post will become vacant at the end of August after incumbent Roberto Azevedo said he would step down a year early.

Hogan has been a European commissioner since 2014, initially responsible for agriculture and since late 2019 for trade.  Last Thursday, he told the European Parliament that it would be “wonderful” if a European became the next head of the Geneva-based trade body. Two other potential European candidates are Spanish foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya and Dutch trade minister Sigrid Kaag.

The issue could become a central topic of a meeting of EU ministers responsible for trade provisionally set for 9 June. Europe could then put forward a single candidate. WTO members can nominate their own nationals as candidates from 8 June to 8 July. With three of the previous six directors-general from Europe and the others from Thailand, Brazil and New Zealand, there is some pressure to choose a leader from Africa, with four names from the continent being cited.

The next director-general will be faced with intensifying US-China tensions and rising protectionism, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The new chief will also have to push forward talks to limit overfishing and set new rules on e-commerce.

Similar articles