World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala announced the appointment of her four deputy directors-general earlier this month.
The new deputy directors-general are Angela Ellard of the United States, Anabel González of Costa Rica, Ambassador Jean-Marie Paugam of France and Ambassador Xiangchen Zhang of China.
In announcing the appointments, Director-General Okonjo-Iweala commented that this is the first time in the history of the WTO that half the deputy directors-general are women.
“This underscores my commitment to strengthening our organization with talented leaders whilst at the same time achieving gender balance in senior positions. I look forward to welcoming them to the WTO,” said Director-General Okonjo-Iweala, who took office on March 1.
Deputy Directors General
From the WTO, background information on the four deputy directors-general is as follows.
• Angela Ellard (United States) has a distinguished career of service working at the U.S. Congress as majority and minority chief trade counsel and staff director. She is internationally recognized as an expert on trade and international economic policy, negotiating trade agreements and supporting multilateral solutions as part of an effective trade and development policy.
Ellard has negotiated and delivered significant bipartisan trade policy outcomes and legislation for well over 25 years with members of U.S. Congress and senior officials in the Trump, Obama, Bush and Clinton administrations.
Ellard also worked as a lawyer in the private sector, dealing with trade litigation and strategy, policy and legislative issues.
She earned her law degree, cum laude, from Tulane University School of Law and her master’s in public policy from Tulane. Ellard is a frequent lecturer for law, graduate and undergraduate classes, and has published articles on trade law and policy.
• Anabel González (Costa Rica) is a renowned global expert on trade, investment and economic development with a proven managerial track record in international organizations and the public sector. In government, González served as minister of foreign trade of Costa Rica; as director-general for international trade negotiations; as director-general of the Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE); and as special ambassador and chief negotiator of the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement.
González also served at the World Bank as a senior director and at the WTO as director of the Agriculture and Commodities Division and as senior consultant with the Inter-American Development Bank. More recently, she has worked as a non-resident senior fellow with the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
González earned her master’s degree from Georgetown University Law Center with the highest academic distinction and has published extensively on economic issues and trade.
• Ambassador Jean-Marie Paugam (France) has held senior management positions in the French government on trade, most recently as permanent representative of France to the WTO.
He also has held a number of senior positions in the French Ministry of Economy and Finance, including as a member of the Executive Committee of the French Treasury. He has served as deputy executive director of the International Trade Centre in Geneva.
Ambassador Paugam has accumulated a deep and practical knowledge of government practices on trade and is familiar with high-level dialogues on trade and international economic operations.
He has published a number of articles on trade-related issues, in particular when serving as senior research fellow on international trade at the French Institute for International Relations (IFPRI).
Ambassador Paugam graduated from ENA in Paris and earned degrees in political science from the Institute of Political Science in Aix-en-Provence and in law from the Faculty of Law Aix-Marseille III.
• Ambassador Xiangchen Zhang (China) is currently serving as Vice Minister in the Ministry of Commerce of China. He has long and extensive experience on WTO issues, international negotiations, and policy research.
Ambassador Zhang served until recently as China’s permanent representative to the WTO and previously as deputy permanent representative. He has had an extensive career of more than 30 years in international trade, serving as director of the Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation; as director-general of the Department of WTO Affairs of the Ministry of Commerce; and as director-general of the Department of Policy Research of the Ministry of Commerce.
Ambassador Zhang holds a bachelor’s degree in law, a master’s degree in international relations and a doctorate in international politics from Peking University.
World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations, and ratified or approved in their parliaments or legislatures. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters and importers conduct business.
The WTO is a multilateral treaty subscribed to by 164 governments, which together account for the majority of world trade (with more than 20 nations negotiating their accession).
The basic aim of the WTO is to liberalize world trade and place it on a secure foundation, thereby contributing to economic growth and development, and to the welfare of people around the world. The functions of the WTO are:
• administering WTO trade agreements;
• providing a forum for trade negotiations;
• handling trade disputes;
• monitoring national trade policies;
• offering technical assistance and training for developing countries; and
• cooperating with other international organizations.
The ultimate goal of the WTO is to abolish trade barriers around the world so that trade can be totally free. Members have agreed to reduce, over time, the most favored nation duty rates to zero — along with abolishing quotas and other nontariff barriers to trade. There are more than 60 agreements dealing with goods, services, investment measures and intellectual property rights.
2021 WTO Action
Director-General Okonjo-Iweala is a former finance and foreign minister from Nigeria. As the newly selected WTO leader, she is tackling reforms within the organization. Her term, which is renewable, will expire on August 31, 2025.
The California Chamber of Commerce is hopeful the major trading economies can reach consensus on a path forward for the WTO this year. The revamp should address the functioning of the Appellate Body, encourage greater transparency and enhance discipline for members who fall behind on reporting obligations.
The Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference, originally planned for June 2020 in Kazakhstan, now is scheduled for December 2021 in Geneva, location of the WTO headquarters.
The CalChamber, in keeping with longstanding policy, enthusiastically supports free trade worldwide, expansion of international trade and investment, fair and equitable market access for California products abroad and elimination of disincentives that impede the international competitiveness of California business.
The WTO is having a positive impact on how California producers of goods and services compete in overseas markets, as well as domestically, and is creating jobs and economic growth through expanded international trade and investment.
The WTO gives businesses improved access to foreign markets and better rules to ensure that competition with foreign businesses is conducted fairly.