Brazil’s Azevedo named to head world trade body

Roberto Azevedo of Brazil was named as the new head of the Geneva-based World Trade Organization on Wednesday, vowing to battle economic protectionism and break the deadlock in talks aimed at liberalizing global commerce.

Brazil's Azevedo named to head world trade body
Roberto Azevedo. Photo: WTO

Career diplomat Azevedo, who currently represents Brazil at the WTO, was statesmanlike after defeating veteran Mexican trade negotiator Herminio Blanco in the final round of the contest which saw seven contenders stumble last month.
"I want to thank the other eight candidates. Their level of expertise and 
experience meant we would have a high-quality director general whatever the outcome," Azevedo told reporters.
His win is seen as a clear sign of the clout of emerging power Brazil — 
Azevedo underlined that Latin America is "more and more influential in global trade — though he has pledged to be a fiercely independent WTO boss.

The Brazilian is to be  appointed formally as WTO leader-designate at a General Council meeting on May 14th.

On Wednesday, Azevedo urged wrangling nations to think hard.
"What the WTO does has an impact on the lives of every citizen across the 
world, whether they realise it or not," he told reporters.
"At this point in time, it should not be about getting what we want. It 
should be about saving what we have. The only way to do it is to look forward, roll up our sleeves, sit down at the table in a solution-finding mode," he said.
"By solving the round, we would be taking the organisation away from 
paralysis," he added.
Azevedo is due to take over the WTO on 
September 1st from Frenchman Pascal Lamy, a former EU trade chief who steered the organization through two four-year terms.
Over coming months, WTO members are expected to make a string of attempts 
to pave the way for a strong December summit in Bali, though predictions of even limited success are gloomy.

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Norway and UK strike post-Brexit trade deal

Norway and the United Kingdom have struck an agreement on a free trade deal, the Norwegian government announced on Friday.

Norway and UK strike post-Brexit trade deal
Erna Solberg outside 10 Downing Street in 2019. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / POOL / AFP)

Negotiations over the agreement have been ongoing since last summer, and the Norwegian government said that the deal is the largest free trade agreement Norway has entered into, outside of the EEA agreement. 

“The agreement entails a continuation of all previous tariff preferences for seafood and improved market access for white fish, shrimp, and several other products,” the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement.  

One of the sticking points of the negotiations was Norway wanting more access to sell seafood in the UK, while the UK wanted more access to sell agricultural products like cheese.

The latter was a problem due to Norway having import protection against agricultural goods. 

“This agreement secures Norwegian jobs and value creation and marks an important step forward in our relationship with the UK after Brexit. This is a long-term agreement, which at the same time helps to accelerate the Norwegian economy,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in a statement.  

 The United Kingdom is Norway’s second most important single market, after the EU. In 2020 Norwegian companies exported goods worth 135 billion kroner to the UK and imported around 42 billion kroner of goods from the UK. 

Norway has given Britain 26 quotas on agricultural products, but not for mutton and beef. The agreement does not increase the UK’s cheese quotas, state broadcaster NRK have reported. 

The agreement will still need to be signed by both the Norwegian and UK parliament.