Roberto Azevêdo, director-general of the World Trade Organization, has been a proponent of international cooperation, putting him at odds with the Trump administration.
The head of the organization charged with bringing a semblance of order to international trade relations resigned unexpectedly Thursday, adding another element of uncertainty to commerce in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and escalating trade conflicts.
Roberto Azevêdo, a career Brazilian diplomat, resigned as the director-general of the World Trade Organization effective Aug. 31, the Geneva-based organization said. His second four-year term was not scheduled to end until September 2021.
The W.T.O.’s operations have been crippled since late last year as a result of actions by the Trump administration, which has refused to approve nominees to fill vacancies on a crucial appeals panel that rules on trade disputes.
With Mr. Azevêdo’s departure, which caught officials in Geneva and Brussels by surprise, the organization will lose an advocate of open trade and international cooperation whose views clashed with President Trump’s preference for bilateral power politics.
His resignation also leaves a leadership vacuum at a perilous moment for the world economy.
The pandemic “is the worst shock to global trade that has happened in our lifetimes,” said Josh Lipsky, director of the global business and economics program at the Atlantic Council, a research organization in Washington. “To lose the leader of the W.T.O. is a serious blow. There is a broken global trading system, and it needs leadership to fix it.”
Mr. Azevêdo, 62, did not link his departure to tensions with the Trump administration. Rather, he said he wanted to give W.T.O. members a head start on choosing a successor, which is often a difficult process.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought complex negotiations on issues such as fishing subsidies to a standstill and made it unlikely that agreements would be reached until next year. A debate at the same time about the next W.T.O. director would interfere with attempts to overcome trade disputes, Mr. Azevêdo said.
“The selection process would be a distraction from — or worse, a disruption to — our desired outcomes,” he said during an online meeting with W.T.O. members. “We would be spending valuable time on a politically charged process that has proved divisive in the past.”
World trade was already declining because of Mr. Trump’s trade wars with Europe and China, and has plunged further since the pandemic brought economic activity in many countries to a standstill. The W.T.O. has predicted that global trade could fall by one-third, a decline not seen since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Recently Mr. Azevêdo has expressed frustration that the United States, Europe, China and other large countries were not coordinating their response to the coronavirus emergency. Mr. Trump has recently stepped up his criticism of China.
“Either we shape up and begin to talk to each other and find common solutions or we are going to pay a heavy price,” Mr. Azevêdo told CNN in April.
Robert Lighthizer, the United States’ top trade official, was conciliatory Thursday. “Despite the many shortcomings of the W.T.O., Roberto has led the institution with grace and a steady hand,” Mr. Lighthizer said in a statement. “He will be difficult to replace.”
Mr. Azevêdo, who was previously a top trade negotiator for Brazil and has worked in Geneva since 1997, also cited personal reasons for his departure. The W.T.O. makes decisions by consensus, which means even one of the organization’s 164 members can stymie progress. The director-general must find a way to thread conflicting national interests and reach accord, a laborious and exhausting task.
Mr. Azevêdo said Thursday that, while he had no serious health problem, he recently had knee surgery. Between that and the lockdown, he said, “I have had more time than usual for reflection.”
“They need to wake up and pay attention to what people actually want,” Ms. Conner said of Democratic leaders. “There are so many progressive policies that have widespread support that mainstream Democrats are not picking up on, or putting that stuff down and saying, ‘That wouldn’t really work.’”
.. Energized to take on President Trump, these voters are also seeking to remake their own party as a ferocious — and ferociously liberal — opposition force. And many appear as focused on forcing progressive policies into the midterm debate as they are on defeating Republicans.
.. Fifty-three of the 305 candidates have been endorsed by the Justice Democrats, the Working Families Party, the Progressive Change Campaign and Our Revolution, organizations that have helped propel challenges to Democratic incumbents.
.. Mr. Brewer, who backs Gretchen Whitmer, a former State Senate leader and the Democratic front-runner for governor, said Michigan Democrats were an ideologically diverse bunch and the party could not expect to win simply by running far to the left.
“There are a lot of moderate and even conservative Democrats in Michigan,” Mr. Brewer cautioned. “It’s always been a challenge for Democrats to hold that coalition together in the general election.”
.. The pressure from a new generation of confrontational progressives has put Democrats at the precipice of a sweeping transition, away from not only the centrist ethos of the Bill Clinton years but also, perhaps, from the consensus-oriented liberalism of Barack Obama. Less than a decade ago, Mr. Obama’s spokesman, Robert Gibbs, derided the “professional left” for making what he suggested were preposterous demands — like pressing for “Canadian health care.”.. urged Democrats to recognize the intensity of “anger, fear and disappointment from people in our own party,” especially those new to the political process.
“They’re young, and a lot of them are folks that weren’t around or weren’t engaged when Obama ran for the first time,” Mr. Johnson, 36, said. “So this is their moment of: Let’s take our country back.”
.. primary voters have chosen candidates who seem to embody change — many of them women and minorities — but who have not necessarily endorsed positions like single-payer health care and abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
.. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, a left-of-center Democrat who ran for president in 2016, suggested the party wants “new leaders and fresh ideas” more than hard-left ideology.
“Sometimes that may be filled by a leader who calls herself a Democratic socialist, and sometimes it’s not,” said Mr. O’Malley, reflecting on the political convulsion that touched his home state. “Sometimes it’s with a young person. Sometimes it’s with a retiree. Sometimes it’s with a vet.”
.. avowedly moderate standard-bearers, such as Senator Doug Jones of Alabama and Representative Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania
.. among Democratic stalwarts, there is a sometimes-rueful recognition that a cultural gulf separates them from the party’s next generation, much of which inhabits a world of freewheeling social media and countercultural podcasts that are wholly unfamiliar to older Democrats.
.. But within deep-blue precincts where Democratic insurgency appears strongest, talk of accommodating the center is in short supply.
Messrs. Trump and Peña Nieto had a “tense” phone call lasting nearly an hour last Tuesday that culminated in what U.S. officials described as a mutual decision to put off a meeting at the White House.
Things got difficult as Mr. Trump was “exasperated” at Mr. Peña Nieto’s insistence that the U.S. president steer clear of talking about his campaign pledge that Mexico would pay for construction of the border wall, senior U.S. and Mexican officials said.
.. After the call, Mr. Trump directed his senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to call Mr. Peña Nieto back to “discuss ways to keep moving forward on other issues,”
.. The decision to cancel the visit was understandable, said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think tank.
“It would be completely humiliating for Mr. Peña Nieto to show and agree that Mexico will pay for the wall,” Mr. Shifter said. “No self-respecting Mexican president would do it.”
.. With Mexican presidential elections less than five months away, the canceled trip could boost leftist nationalist Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is leading in polls.
.. The canceled trip will also complicate negotiations among the U.S., Mexico and Canada to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“It complicates Nafta negotiations and a host of other issues the U.S. has with Mexico,” Mr. Shifter added.
.. There is broad consensus in Mexico against Mr. Trump’s proposed border wall, and that goes beyond ideology, income levels or party lines
.. “There can’t be a dialogue between presidents if there is no common understanding on fundamental issues,” said Ms. Rojas, who belongs to the Senate’s foreign relations committee. “If Mr. Trump refuses to accept the reality that Mexico will not pay a cent for the construction of the wall, a meeting isn’t possible.”
For all of Israel’s great achievements in its seven decades of statehood, our country now finds its very future, identity and security severely threatened by the whims and illusions of the ultranationalist government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
.. this government has been irrational, bordering on messianic
.. The government realizes that carrying out its one-state plan must entail steps and practices that necessarily clash with Israeli and international law — which is why it has effectively declared war on
- the Supreme Court of Israel,
- the free press and civil society, as well as
- the Israel Defense Forces’ ethical code.
This disrespect for the rule of law permeates other aspects of the government, too. It helps to shield the prime minister, his family and his aides from corruption investigations. Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud Party recently introduced legislation that would explicitly forbid the police from recommending indictments at the end of high-profile investigations... there is a broad consensus among Israelis that rests on three pillars.
- First and foremost, security comes before everything; every Israeli understands this.
- Second, the unity, solidarity and integrity of the people take priority over the unity of the land — namely, the wish to possess the entirety of our historic homeland.
- Third, the principles of the 1948 Declaration of Independence, which lay out a vision for a democratic Israel based on freedom, justice and peace, are the foundation of our country’s de facto constitution... The entire debate, then, is actually only over the fate of the isolated settlements, fewer than 100 small communities deep in the West Bank, containing around 100,000 settlers. Even if it is not possible to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at this stage — and it probably is not — it is obvious that continued construction in those isolated settlements directly damages Israel’s vital interests... Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition claims to support the three pillars of Israeli consensus but the truth is it is determinedly undermining all three... He prefers a Greater Israel with an Arab majority, violence and division over a united, self-confident Israel with a solid Jewish majority.. He sanctifies the Land of Israel before the People of Israel. And he systematically erodes Israel’s democracy and liberal norms of governance... In the service of this agenda, Mr. Netanyahu elevated fake news, alternative facts and whataboutism into art forms in Hebrew, long before those terms gained any traction in English.