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Liam Fox to be nominated by UK to lead WTO

UK News | Published:

Nominations for the post close later on Wednesday.

Liam Fox

Former international trade secretary Liam Fox will be nominated by the Government as a candidate to lead the World Trade Organisation.

Downing Street confirmed that Dr Fox, the Conservative MP for North Somerset, has been put forward by the UK to be the WTO’s new director general.

Dr Fox has held ministerial roles under John Major, David Cameron and Theresa May, latterly serving as international trade secretary during the Brexit negotiations.

He was an ardent supporter of the UK’s exit from the EU.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing on Wednesday: “The PM will be writing to the WTO today and he will say that Dr Fox is a passionate advocate of multilateralism who brings detailed knowledge of the global trading system from his years as a UK Cabinet minister and secretary of state for international trade.

“He has first-hand experience of the political and technical challenges of negotiating trade agreements and the reforms that are needed to ensure the global trading system truly delivers for all WTO members.

“Dr Fox will be supported by a cross-government team.”

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Pressed on whether being a Brexiteer was now a necessary qualification for senior appointments, the spokesman said: “No.”

Dr Fox said he was “honoured” to have been nominated to be a candidate to lead the organisation.

He tweeted: “I believe that if we want to keep the WTO relevant and vibrant our task is clear: Update. Strengthen and Reform. We must ensure that global trade works for everyone.”

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International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said he would be a “fierce champion of free and fair trade”.

She wrote on Twitter: “Delighted to confirm that the UK will be nominating @LiamFox to be the next Director General of the WTO.

“We need a fierce champion of free and fair trade, an advocate of multilateralism and someone able to get things done.

“Liam brings all that to the table.”

The WTO is seeking a new director general after Roberto Azevedo announced he would step down next month. Nominations close later on Wednesday.

Shadow international trade secretary Emily Thornberry said: “It seems extraordinary that Boris Johnson is prepared to tell his international counterparts that the man he decided a year ago was not good enough to lead Britain’s trade policy is now the best candidate he can think of to lead the world’s.

“For a job of this importance, at this crucial time for the world and British economy, with the threat of further tariff wars exacerbating a global recession, it is also hugely disappointing that the UK is submitting a candidate that the international community will immediately discount.

“There will be little trust in somebody who promised so much in regards to Britain’s future trade yet delivered so little and was the architect of a Trade Bill that threatens to jeopardise our farming standards our public services, and a UK Trade Remedies Authority that gives no voice to business or workers. That is not the man we need in charge of global trade.”

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