Roberto Azevêdo

We can learn a lot about a person if we know what types of things he or she talks about or comments on the most frequently. There are numerous topics with which Roberto Azevêdo is associated, including WTO, EU, and trading. Most recently, Roberto Azevêdo has been quoted saying: “You don't want to see that now. That would be a catastrophe of untold proportions. I think we should try not to talk ourselves into a trade war and I think we're seeing a lot of that.” in the article Will Trump end globalization? The doubt haunts Davos' elite.

Roberto Azevêdo quotes

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In trade, the devil is in the details. I think the WTO has the tools to handle a lot of the things that have been mentioned as concerns so far.

You don't want to see that now. That would be a catastrophe of untold proportions. I think we should try not to talk ourselves into a trade war and I think we're seeing a lot of that.

The U.S. today itself has the largest slice it has ever had in terms of manufactured products in the world, but the loss of jobs is still there, not because of trade, not because of cheap imports but because of higher productivity.

Trade is responsible for two job losses out of ten. What happens is the other eight are lost not because of trade but they are lost because of new technologies, innovation, higher productivity.

I haven't had any indication from anybody that that would be the case.

Trade is not for amateurs. Trade is tough. So we should not prejudge and jump to conclusions whenever any initiative is launched.

I think that at this point in time what we have to do is be ready for a conversation.

If you don't have the right diagnosis you don't have the right medicine. If the medicine is simply protectionism the outcome will be that you will harm the patient.

I haven't heard, at this point in time, anybody say trade is bad for the United States.

It's clear many feel trade isn't working for them. We must address this and ensure trade delivers the widest benefit to the most people.

The first thing we need to do is define what a hard Brexit is...I think that the less turbulence you have in this process the better. So if we can maintain the kind of relationship that exists today, so much the better. But that's much easier said than done. It will be a tough negotiation.

A lot of it will depend on the terms that the two parties will come to. So the U.K. on the one side, the EU on the other side.

You need to bring rationality back to the conversation about trade. It cannot be an emotional conversation.

My concern is that if you step up your rhetoric it becomes harder and harder to backtrack.

We have to see who wins and what kind of policies they want to implement.

It is very difficult because people are affected in their everyday lives by these shifts. But these shifts are not caused by trade.

That may have a positive impact on how the other WTO members view this or not.

The other WTO members arguably could say, I don't like it. We should change this, or we should change that.

In general, protectionist measures, especially unilateral measures, they're not helpful. Protectionism is contagious. That's the reality. One thinks that one is winning when we slap tariffs or introduce barriers to imports from another country and we think we win.

Trade is not the cause for unemployment. In fact, the biggest drivers for unemployment are innovation and increased productivity. It has nothing to do with trade.

I'm very concerned with the type of debate I see in campaigning about trade and about the negative trade effects because that may lead to the wrong policies, to the wrong decisions.

That may lead to the wrong policies and the wrong decisions, as we come to the situation where a new government is in place.

When we talk about trade, most of the times, it's making a relationship between trade and unemployment. Trade is not the cause of unemployment. In fact, the biggest drivers of unemployment are innovation and increased productivity. More than 80 percent of unemployment caused in those countries (U.S. and Europe) is due to those two factors, so trade is a minor component of that.

It is extremely difficult and the interests are very clear, visible and political as well, but it's possible. We have proven (that) at the WTO often – we had the Bali deals two years ago; just last year, another one.

I am concerned. I think that as far as trade is concerned, we are not worse than we were before but we are definitely not much better. We will be growing now at the slowest pace than the last 30 years. It is still sluggish and the problem is this new anti-trade rhetoric, anti-globalization rhetoric. It doesn't help because it may spell what is to come in terms of policies, so that is definitely bad news.

The terms of the protocol apply to all WTO members equally. They may see it differently or understand that differently, but the terms of the protocol apply. The WTO had no need to make a determination on China's market economy status. Now the way forward, in my view, is to face the issue squarely, collaboratively, through dialogue, trying to find sustainable solutions for this and other sectors where over capacity may exist.

There will be negotiations ensuing if the U.K. leaves the EU. So negotiations would be needed between the U.K. and the EU; the U.K. and other WTO members; and the countries with whom the EU has free trade areas.

Those are not easily sorted out when somebody enters the EU, or leaves the EU.

It could be a few years, it could be decades. But our experience suggests that to expect smooth sailing and quick results would be a high-risk bet.

It is very likely that both the EU and the UK will have to negotiate with all WTO members.

My experience has been that I haven't seen a true free trader on this real earth yet. Everybody somewhere has some degree of protection or limitation in one sector or another.

The moment you want to write a limitation here or there, technically any member of the WTO may say 'I disagree with the limitation that you're introducin.

It is not far-fetched to imagine that some members may say that it's difficult to negotiate the Brexit terms with both the EU and the UK while the current status of the EU membership is not fully ascertained.

All that I am saying is that unless you go for some kind of radical, almost theoretical, argument that no negotiations are needed, any other scenario would require some negotiation with all WTO members.

No way, it can help a lot! It can help a lot because it means progress in some fields of work that may eventually be used as inspiration for multilateral understanding.

These countries need greater attention from the multilateral trading system, we must give them more opportunities to fit the commerce and production's chains, something that currently takes place across borders. A product is no longer just made in one country, but in several. However, the opportunities will appear from nowhere, it takes work to identify these opportunities and allow these countries to participate in a more active away in those flows.

For example, in the agricultural area. The agricultural legislation, the subsidies, the phytosanitary barriers of today are not those that existed in the 80s, when the Uruguay Round was completed. In the area of intellectual property there is a huge amount of mechanisms that have been developed in the last 30 years, the same applies in the areas of services or digital economy.

Probably the result will focus on issues such as agriculture, trade facilitation, food security, development issues. How, in what way, to which extent and which depth, is what we will negotiate.

It is the governments' attitudes that lead the market to be more open or more closed. So, we can have fields of work that governments use as basis for an opening, for liberalizing, but may also be used for the closing, the protection, if that is the direction that a particular government is taking.

These bilateral agreements, in which the negotiation is closed and few countries are involved, tend to test the boundaries of trading. They go to the limit of what is possible in terms of negotiating the liberalisation of trade and the creation of new rules. The multilateral agreement involves a larger number of countries, so it tends to be somewhat slower, not going to the border, but harmonize everything in a much faster way.

Well, as Director General I can not be anything other than a facilitator of understanding and consensus on a relentless pursuit for trade liberalisation. It is one of the essential elements for global economic growth, not just for certain individualized countries. This applies particularly to the poorest countries, that need to open up trade, that need new markets to place their products.

I do not see any possibility for an organization like the WTO to decide without being by consensus. What we can do is to create different rhythms for some negotiations, we have to be flexible in the process. I think it is not sustainable that the organization carry on its disciplinary role of international trade if we do not update the fields of work.

In general, global trade has a very close relationship with the economic growth. The important thing is to give member countries the ability to act and interact with other markets in a predictable and balanced way, without rules that favors a certain group of countries rather than another. That there is a balanced and predictable relationship.

I have studied engineering. An engineer can not be optimistic because the building will fall, but also he can not be pessimistic because he will spend too much money. Basically, I'm realistic: I think there are difficulties, member countries will have to make an effort in order to reach an understanding, but I think this effort is possible.

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