WTO members elect new chair of farm trade talks

by World Grain Staff
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GENEVEA, SWITZERLAND — The World Trade Organization (WTO) announced on Sept. 8 that it elected New Zealand Ambassador Vangelis Vitalis as its new chairperson.  Vitalis was appointed as New Zealand’s ambassador to the WTO in July. 

Ambassador Vitalis is the ninth chairperson of the agriculture negotiations since talks began in March 2000 and the fifth since the talks were brought into the Doha Round in 2001.

Previously he served as New Zealand’s Ambassador to the E.U., NATO, and Sweden and was Deputy High Commissioner to Australia, according to New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In 2012, Vitlais was appointed to lead the FTA negotiations with the Customs Union of Russia Belarus and Kazakhstan. He also worked as a senior New Zealand negotiator at WTO from 2004-09 as well as economic modeling for the New Zealand-China FTA Joint Study.

Outside of the New Zealand Foreign Service, Vitalis worked as an economist at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development where he was chief economic advisor to the Ministerial Round Table on Sustainable Development.

Vangelis has published extensively, including on the relationship between trade, competition and agriculture; the economics of sustainable development; and the relationship between trade, innovation and economic growth. His most recent publication (April 2015) is an ADBI Working Paper assessing how and whether bilateral and plurilateral trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific can support the WTO/multilateralism.

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