KU Professor comments on resignation of WTO leader

Published: May. 15, 2020 at 12:36 PM CDT
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University of Kansas international trade law expert, Raj Bhala, has spoken about consequences of World Trade Organization leader’s resignation.

World Trade Organization Director, General Roberto Azevêdo announced his resignation on Thursday, May 14. This greatly surprised the international trade community and added to uncertainty during the global coronavirus pandemic.

Azevêdo will be allowed to serve until the end of August though his second four-year term was not set to expire until next year.

Azevêdo and the WTO have been at odds with the Trump administration regarding social distancing and health guidelines.

“This director-general shepherded the WTO through the most turbulent period in world trade since the end of the Second World War,” says Bhala, a Brenneisen Distinguished Professor of Law at the KU School of Law. “In every one of the WTO’s main functions, and on every significant issue Mr. Azevêdo dealt with controversy amidst rising tides of trade protectionism and economic nationalism. In the process for choosing his successor, we will see whether members are serious about reinvigorating this international organization or acquiesce to its continued atrophy.”

Bhala is a world-renowned expert in international trade law and has worked in over 25 countries. He wrote dozens of books and journal articles on international trade and a regular column for Bloomberg Quint in India. Bhala practiced international banking law at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York before becoming a professor. Currently he serves as adviser to Dentons Kansas City.