US, Chinese trade experts among WTO chief's new deputies

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has again chosen trade experts from China and the United States as deputies for its director-general, maintaining a delicate geopolitical balancing act which also keeps two fractious powers close at hand.

Two out of the 4 chosen are women, a first for the global trade watchdog. Their 4 predecessors, all men, stepped down on March 31.

Replacing their compatriots are Angela Ellard, an American lawyer and trade expert who has worked at the US Congress, and Zhang Xiangchen, currently vice trade minister and its former WTO ambassador, the WTO said in a statement.

France's WTO envoy Jean-Marie Paugam and Costa Rica's former trade minister Anabel Gonzalez were also selected, it said.

"It is the first time in the history of our organization that half of the DDGs (deputy director-generals) are women," Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said in the statement. Okonjo-Iweala, who became director-general on March 1, is the first woman and African at the WTO helm.

"This underscores my commitment to strengthening our organization with talented leaders whilst at the same time achieving gender balance in senior positions," she said.

Traditionally, WTO deputies come from the United States, European Union, Asia, and a developing country. An Indian candidate, Mohan Kumar, had challenged China's Zhang for the Asia post this time. ā€“ Rappler.com