Interview with Mexico´s candidate for Director General of the World Trade Organisation, Dr. Herminio Blanco

June 1, 2013

We caught up with Mexico’s WTO candidate when he came to London on a whistlestop tour…

Why have you come to London?

I am conducting a tour of countries as part of my campaign for Director General of the WTO. I have come to London because of the shared values of open trade and the close relationship between Mexico and Britain. We have had an excellent reception from government figures, indeed the reaction could not have been more positive. At the moment we are not asking for any commitments it’s just a way to express more closely our vision for the WTO and explain why I think I am the best candidate.

So why are you the best candidate?

One strong factor in my favour is that I am from Mexico. That matters because Mexico is a country that is transforming very rapidly through trade. Our experiences in delivering prosperity through trade should prove useful for other developing nations. Indeed Mexico’s mixed economy has given me a diverse range of experiences. That’s because in Mexico there are highly developed commercial and industrial areas but also areas of poverty. So we can bring experience from both developed and developing world to try and solve these negotiations.

I believe that the WTO is a great institution, one of best that humanity has built in terms of rules and internal institutions. But it is also an institution that hasn’t been able to conclude 12-year negotiations

The other reason, on a more personal front, is that I have the experience of having led successful trade negotiations. Indeed I have brokered deals that have proved historical both from a Mexican point of view and the world perspective. For example the North American Free Trade Agreement was extremely important. Cutting these deals has given me experience dealing with powerful groups such as the United States and the EU.  But I have also negotiated with smaller countries with different levels of development. I have signed agreements with Bolivia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. That requires a different set of practical and political skills. Finally, in last decade I have been working in private sector. I have played an important role in Mexican companies and international firms too. That means I am somebody who has not only contributed to writing rules of trade but also been a user of those rules.

What’s your vision for the WTO?

Promoting trade and investment is clearly the main aim. I believe that the WTO is a great institution, one of best that humanity has built in terms of rules and internal institutions. But it is also an institution that hasn’t been able to conclude 12-year negotiations. It is governed by rules designed for the world of 15 years ago. As a result it now runs the risk of becoming irrelevant. Things are not progressing in Geneva and worryingly businesses are now seeking other fora. The organisation needs to adapt to reflect the great changes that have taken place in the world economy. Indeed that is one of the most important things I will work on – keeping it relevant as an organisation for people all over world. I will also fight against the protectionism that might affect the ability of small countries to export.