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The WTO’s role is more important than ever

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The WTO’s role is more important than ever

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WTO leading candidates Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, from Nigeria, (L) and Kenya’s Amina Mohamed © FT Montage/EPA/AFP

The next head of the World Trade Organization faces an uphill struggle. As candidates line up to replace Roberto Azevêdo, the multilateral trade body is confronting a fundamental difficulty: the impulse towards liberalisation has faded across much of the world. Concerns about globalisation, whether economic, environmental or security-based, have risen and countries are retreating from openness over trade. Mutual mistrust between China and the US, as well as the EU and China, means that any further liberalising of trade is likely to be between regional blocs and coalitions of the willing rather than all members. 

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