The UK will nominate former Tory cabinet minister Liam Fox for the post of WTO Director-General to succeed Roberto Azevedo, The Spectator's political editor James Forsyth reported on Wednesday.
"Understand the UK will nominate Liam Fox to be Director General of the World Trade Organisation," he tweeted, without elaborating.
Liam Fox, 58, is a Conservative MP who served as defence secretary between May 2010 and October 2011. He resigned after being accused of breaking the ministerial code over his working relationship with Scottish businessman Adam Werritty, his close friend.
Fox, who once chaired the Conservative Party, also served as international trade secretary from July 2016 to July 2019, losing his job in a cabinet reshuffle after Boris Johnson became prime minister.
The incumbent WTO chief, Roberto Azevedo, is expected to step down on August 31, one year before his term was set to expire. Azevedo's resignation comes at a critical moment for the global trading body, which has come under pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The WTO has also got caught in the middle of simmering tensions between the United States and China, while Washington is blocking the appointment of new judges over accusations of judicial overreach, effectively paralysing its dispute-settling mechanism.
Other candidates for the director-general post include South Korea's Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee; Kenya's sports, culture and heritage minister Amina Mohamed; Mexican economist and former WTO deputy director-general Jesus Seade Kuri; Nigeria's former foreign and finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Egypt's former director of the WTO Trade in Services division Hamid Mamdouh; and Moldova's former foreign minister Tudor Ulianovschi.