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Central American could lead the World Trade Organization

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Can someone from a small country such as Costa Rica become Director General of the body, which regulates global trade?

Not easy, but maybe not impossible.

The best player on Barcelona, a world-class soccer team, is Leonel Messi, who is only 170 centimeters tall.

For her part, Anabel Gónzalez has in her favor the fact that the representatives of many member countries may feel that it is time for a woman leader of the World Trade Organization, which has been headed exclusively by men, since its founding in 1948 as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Two other women are competing for the job, one from Indonesia and another from Kenya.

Still, Gónzalez seems to have significant support, partly because some delegates may prefer a Director General from a small country, on the grounds that it tend to have less of a national agenda.

Currently, González at 3-to-1 odds is a co-favorite to be nominated, along with New Zealand's Tim Groser, according to London-based Ladbrokes bookmakers.

Meanwhile, the Dublin-based oddsmaker Paddy Power has González and Groser tied for second place at 11-4, behind only Ghana's John Kyerematen, at 9-4.

Gónzalez’ chances are strengthened by a widespread consensus among member states, that the WTO should have a leader from one of the developing nations, whose strength in numbers is vital to the revival of world trade, especially in a climate of uncertainty in Europe and the United States.

All previous Directors General of the WTO, headquartered in Geneva, came from the developed world, as is the case of the incumbent, France´s Pascal Lamy, whose term expires in August.

Gónzalez also faces competition from other Latin Americans.

Herminio Blanco led Mexico's team in free trade negotiations with the United States and Canada in the 1990s.

Brazil, which has long aspired to be a leader of the developing world, is promoting the election as Director-General of Roberto Azevedo, who has led the country’s delegation to the WTO since 2008.

The organization’s 157 member countries have until March 31 to choose a new leader.