This article was published before we became the Chartered Institute of Export & International Trade on 10 July 2024, and this is reflected in references to our old brand and name. For more information about us becoming Chartered, visit our dedicated webpage on the change here.


Britain’s former International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, has failed to progress in the race to become director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), according to the BBC.   

Instead, the global trade dispute arbitrator is set to have its first female boss, with a run off between Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala and Yoo Myung-hee from South Korea, reports the Guardian.  

They will compete to succeed Brazilian Roberto Azevêdo who has held the post since 2013. 

Dr Fox failed to make the final two from a shortlist of five candidates, despite support from the US.  

The UK’s representative to the WTO, Julian Braithwaite, said it was important that the WTO appointed a candidate with a dedicated track record of commitment to the multilateral trading system. 

UK support for WTO 

“The United Kingdom will continue to deepen our engagement with the WTO and we firmly believe that a healthy and prosperous world rests on a predictable, rules-based international trading system,” Braithwaite said in a statement to the WTO

His words were echoed in a live IOE&IT interview on Wednesday 7 October with Export Minister Graham Stuart MP. 

The organisation has recently been beset with issues such as the rise of protectionism in countries including the US and China, criticism from President Trump as well as having to find a new director-general. 

Asked by host Marco Forgione, director general of the IOE&IT, for his views on the WTO, the Minister replied that the organisation had “an important role to play” in creating a fair system in which small players and large powers follow the same rules.  

“We aim to be the most vocal and firm supporter of liberal rules-based international order there is, and the WTO is at the heart of that,” Stuart said. 

“That’s not to say that it can’t be reformed and improved. But a world where ‘might is right’ is going to be one where there are going to be more trade frictions.” 

If there is no UK-EU deal after transition, the UK has said that it will trade on WTO terms