Towards the end of the director-general crisis at the WTO

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The world economy is at a major turning point with the negative impact of trade wars and the new type of coronavirus epidemic (Kovid-19).

In that period, the WTO, which is the only international body that regulates world trade, has experienced a management vacuum for months.


Following the departure of Roberto Azevedo, the organization’s former director general, on September 1, 2020, it is unclear who will become the new director general of the WTO.

The WTO General Council is expected to hold a special meeting on February 15 to determine who will be the new director general.

Following the announcement by the United States that it will support Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, whose consensus was reached in the WTO Director-General elections, and announced that it would participate in the consensus in this direction, the other candidate for the final round, the Korean Commerce Minister Yoo Myung-hee recently accelerated consensus building among members. His announcement, in close cooperation with the United States, that he has stepped down from his nomination for the WTO Directorate General, removes the question of who will be the new director.

Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo Iweala is expected to be the Director General of the WTO, which has been vacant for months.

It is noted that if Iweala is elected, the organization will go down in history as the first woman and the first African president, while many world trade crises await the new director at the table.


He was twice the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Executive Director of Operations of the World Bank. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala currently leads the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI).

For the WTO, which has long grappled with problems due to the blockage in the negotiating agenda, the United States’ objections to the multilateral system and the unilateral measures it has taken, the coming to power of Iweala is important for the beginning of a new it was in the organization.

The green light from the Biden administration in the US for Iweala is seen as a sign that the country will contribute to the organizing work of the country in this period.


While many debates and problems await the new Director General of the WTO, the fact that many states tend to make bilateral or regional agreements instead of obtaining results from multilateral agreements is shown as one of the main problems of the WTO.

Finally, an example is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement that covers 15 countries in Asia Pacific. Some circles claim that these agreements can also contribute to trade liberalization.

While it is claimed that the WTO and the multilateral rules system have been in crisis for a long time, it is claimed that negotiations have slowed down and many decisions in the field of agriculture and development cannot be implemented due to growing differences. opinion.

While the Conference of Ministers in the organization has not been held since 2017, unilateral measures taken in many areas as a result of the policies of the US administration led by Donald Trump and trade wars are among the issues waiting to be resolved.

The WTO appeals body has also been inoperative for some time, as the United States blocked the election of members. This situation erodes the organization’s strength to observe and enforce its rules.

The lack of correction of the unfair nature of the support in the agricultural agreement in favor of developed countries also remains a problem.

While it is claimed that bottlenecks in all these areas for years to come will be the most important tests for Iweala, the functions of the WTO are being questioned in various segments and voices about the need for an organization are also increasing.


Discussions on reforming the WTO to overcome all these bottlenecks are said to have not progressed due to differences of opinion among members, but may gain momentum during the Iweala period.

In this context, it is stated that many countries prioritize the establishment of rules in areas such as electronic commerce, investment and the environment where progress cannot be made at the multilateral level.

Within this agenda, negotiations are also underway to discipline fisheries subsidies in accordance with sustainable development goals.

On the WTO agenda, there are also suggestions to ensure the security of the food supply, facilitate trade, protect the environment and cooperation in medical products, drugs and vaccines due to the Kovid-19 outbreak.

Important discussions continue within the organization about the security of the global food supply affected by the epidemic.


Iweala is expected to play a leading role in solving these discussions and problems through reconciliation in the new period. However, it is stated that since the WTO is a member-centered organization, it will not be possible for the Director General to achieve success alone and that all members must be constructive in these processes.

Due to its international experience, knowledge of the capacity problems of developing and least developed countries and their need for support in development processes, and its strong communication with developed and developing countries, Iweala can reduce the loss of confidence that appeared in the negotiations. of the organization, and strengthen the organization by accelerating It is evaluated that it can contribute.

Furthermore, it is noted that Iweala’s international experience in managing global health and access to medical supplies, especially vaccines, in less developed countries can help to gain WTO efficiency in the field of health.


While the WTO is of great importance for the free and rules-based conduct of world trade, the importance of the organization is even better understood in the destruction caused by mutual unilateral measures called trade wars in recent years and when the flow of trade is slows down. during the epidemic process of Kovid-19.

Recently, the slowdown in multilateral negotiations has led countries to enter into bilateral and regional trade agreements, but unless they are supported by multilateral rules, the market access opportunities that these agreements will provide will remain limited.

a founding member of the WTO and predictability in world exports is one of the major players in Turkey’s global trading market, in order to maintain market transparency and input-based trade rules is of great importance.

So much with the Customs Union, which Turkey is on the G20 development path has a leading role in managing multilateral world trade.

In this context, an active actor in the WTO Turkey, the formation of the agreement, the advancement of negotiations in areas where the commercial interests of the management gives the work in the organization for the elimination of the damage caused by the unfair practices that take place in market loss or the domestic market.

Turkey’s customs union, free trade and Preferential Trade Agreements are expected with the entry with multiple negotiations, and in addition to protecting their trade relations, have been strengthened in recent years in the Iweala period also continue their active stance on the guidance of multilateral negotiations in the WTO.

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