Over the past few weeks, much has been made about the transatlantic trade pact President Obama proposed in his State of the Union address, as well as the announcement that Japan will join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the U.S. hopes to wrap up this year. Largely overlooked, however, was another development in the area of trade: the leadership contest for the post of the World Trade Organization’s director general. The winning candidate, Brazil’s Roberto Carvalho de Azevêdo, managed to secure the closed-door consensus that passes for a selection procedure with milquetoast statements designed to offend no one.
The lack of excitement about Azevêdo’s appointment reflects the extent to which the WTO has been marginalized in favor of trade regionalism. That’s a real problem for the U.S.: Regional approaches can’t handle a lot of the country’s most significant trade issues. The World Trade Organization, meanwhile, remains vital to…
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