China hails new WTO boss as nod to developing world

BEIJING (AFP) - China's state news agency on Thursday welcomed the appointment of Brazilian diplomat Roberto Azevedo to head the World Trade Organisation, saying it showed the growing clout of emerging economies.

Azevedo's selection was "something worth celebrating" as the first time a candidate from the BRICS grouping - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - had secured the top job at the WTO, Xinhua said in a commentary.

His appointment "further testifies to the widely recognised fact that emerging economies are playing an increasingly important role in global economic activities", it said.

Azevedo, 55, will take the helm of a 159-member grouping still trying to find its way after the collapse of the Doha round of global trade talks in 2008. The current rules underpinning global trade date from 1994.

But Xinhua cautioned that in the face of protectionism, the Brazilian faced a daunting task to achieve consensus.

"No one should be ignorant about the fact that Azevedo's efforts to revive stalled trade talks and fight disruptive protectionist measures can succeed only if major global trade powers rally behind him and iron out their differences for the global development," it said.

Azevedo emerged victorious on Wednesday as the consensus choice of WTO members and will replace Frenchman Pascal Lamy, a former EU trade commissioner, on September 1 as director-general.