As Roberto Azevedo leaves the World Trade Organization Monday, the institution faces multiple crises without a captain — a situation experts warn could drag on for months.
Any future WTO leader will head an organisation mired in stalled trade talks and struggling to curb trade tensions between the United States and China.
It must also help member countries navigate a devastating global economic slump sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.
The global trade body faces relentless attacks from Washington, which has crippled the WTO dispute settlement appeal system and threatened to leave altogether.
Many observers fear that intransigent US positions could paralyse the WTO process of designating a new director general, leaving the organisation leaderless for the foreseeable future.
“The US demands that the new DG shares US concerns, many of which are about addressing concerns related to China,” Manfred Elsig, a professor of international relations at the World Trade Institute