U.S. and Chinese trade experts among the WTO chief's new deputies

FILE PHOTO: World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala poses before an interview with Reuters at the WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, April 12, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Trade Organization has again chosen trade experts from China and the United States as deputies for its director-general, maintaining a delicate geopolitical balancing act which also keeps two fractious powers close at hand.

Two out of the four chosen are women, a first for the global trade watchdog. Their four predecessors, all men, stepped down on March 31.

Replacing their compatriots are Angela Ellard, an American lawyer and trade expert who has worked at the U.S. Congress, and Zhang Xiangchen, currently vice trade minister and its former WTO ambassador, the WTO said in a statement.

France’s WTO envoy Jean-Marie Paugam and Costa Rica’s former trade minister Anabel Gonzalez were also selected, it said.

“It is the first time in the history of our organisation that half of the DDGs (deputy director-generals) are women,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said in the statement. Okonjo-Iweala, who became director-general on March 1, is the first woman and African at the WTO helm.

“This underscores my commitment to strengthening our organisation with talented leaders whilst at the same time achieving gender balance in senior positions,” she said.

Traditionally, WTO deputies come from the United States, European Union, Asia and a developing country. An Indian candidate Mohan Kumar had challenged China’s Zhang for the Asia post this time.

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