food and beverage industry

Departing WTO chief gets top job at PepsiCo

Agence France-Presse

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Roberto Azevedo, who on August 31 will step down as World Trade Organization director-general, will become an executive vice president and chief corporate affairs officer with PepsiCo

The World Trade Organization (WTO)’s exiting chief, who is leaving the crisis-stricken institution a year ahead of schedule, will move to the private sector as a top executive at PepsiCo, the company said on Thursday, August 20.

Roberto Azevedo, who on August 31 will step down as WTO director-general after 7 years at the helm, will the next day become an executive vice president and chief corporate affairs officer with PepsiCo, the United States soft drink and snacks giant said in a statement.

The company said the role had been created for the Brazilian career diplomat who will work on “solidifying PepsiCo’s external engagement efforts with national and international [authorities], regulators, international organizations, and non-governmental stakeholders.”

Azevedo, PepsiCo chief Ramon Laguarta said, would bring “valuable political skills and technical knowledge of the complex social, political, and regulatory environments” impacting the company.

The departing WTO chief, who was educated as an engineer, said in the statement that he was “delighted to join PepsiCo at time when strengthening relationships between business, government, and society has become essential to generating sustainable and inclusive long-term growth.”

Azevedo, who made the surprise announcement in May that he would end his second WTO term 12 months early, for “personal reasons,” is leaving the organization engulfed in multiple crises.

One of 8 candidates currently in the running to succeed him will be taking the reins in the midst of a devastating global economic downturn sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, trade negotiations appear hopelessly stalled and trade tensions between the US and China continue to soar.

At the same time, the appellate branch of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body, sometimes called the supreme court of world trade, stopped functioning in December after years of relentless US opposition.

Washington accuses the court of major overreach and has blocked appointments of new judges, leaving it without the quorum needed to hear cases. 

Last month, WTO members failed to agree on what had been expected to be a straightforward appointment of one of 4 current deputy directors as an acting chief during the months-long selection process for a permanent leader. –

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