Former Deputy Directors-General

Director-General Roberto Azevêdo appointed four Deputy Directors-General in September 2013: Yonov Frederick Agah of Nigeria, Karl Brauner of Germany, David Shark of the United States and Yi Xiaozhun of China. David Shark served until September 2017 while Frederick Agah, Karl Brauner and Yi Xiaozhun remained in office until March 2021. Alan Wolff of the United States served as Deputy Director-General from September 2017 to March 2021.

Four Deputy Directors-General served under Director-General Pascal Lamy from October 2005 to September 2013: Alejandro Jara of Chile, Valentine Sendanyoye Rugwabiza of Rwanda, Harsha Vardhana Singh of India and Rufus H. Yerxa of the United States.

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DDGs under DG Azevêdo

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Yonov Frederick Agah 

Yonov Frederick Agah began his first term as Deputy Director-General of the WTO on 1 October 2013. He was appointed for a second four-year term, starting on 1 October 2017.

Yonov Frederick Agah was appointed as Nigeria’s Ambassador to the WTO in 2005. In that capacity, he served as the Alternate Chief Negotiator for the Doha Round and Head of Nigeria's Trade Office to the WTO in the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations Office in Geneva. The Trade Office is responsible for Nigeria’s participation in Geneva-based trade-related international organizations, particularly the UN Conference on Trade and Development, the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the International Trade Centre and the WTO.

Mr Agah served as Chair of the WTO's General Council in 2011. He was responsible for organizing the Eighth WTO Ministerial Conference, which was acknowledged to be successful despite the prevailing stalemate in the Doha Round. He has also served as Chair of the following WTO bodies: Dispute Settlement Body in 2010, the Council for Trade in Services in 2009, the Trade Policy Review Body in 2008, the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights in 2007, and the Council for Trade in Goods in 2006. He was also the Chair of the Council for TRIPS, Special Session, in 2013.

Mr Agah has previously worked as a lecturer at Kaduna Polytechnic, Kaduna (1979-81), senior features writer/circulation manager, Benue Printing and Publishing Corporation (1982-84), Sales Manager, Benue Bottling Company Limited (1984-87), Field Manager, UTC Nigeria PLC (1990-91), Deputy Director (multilateral) (1991-2001) and Director (external trade) (2002-05).

Mr Agah holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Economics from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria. He obtained a Master of Business Administration and Doctor of Philosophy in Economics (International Trade) from the University of Jos, Nigeria, in 1989 and 2007 respectively. His doctoral dissertation was on “Trade Policy Reform and Economic Growth in Nigeria Since 1986”. Mr Agah also obtained a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Abuja, Nigeria, in 2009. He has contributed to various books and journals.


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Karl Brauner  

Karl Brauner began his first term as Deputy Director-General of the WTO on 1 October 2013. He was appointed for a second four-year term, starting on 1 October 2017.

Prior to joining the WTO, he held the position of Director General for external economic policy in the German Federal Ministry of Economics in Berlin for 12 years. In that role he was responsible for all the instruments of export promotion and was also in charge of export controls. His area of responsibility comprised all of Germany's bilateral economic relations outside the EU.

Regarding EU issues, he served as Germany’s representative in the European Union’s Trade Policy Committee whose role is to determine the EU's trade policy. He has taken part in all WTO ministerial conferences since the launch of the Doha Development Agenda.

He is a lawyer by profession, with degrees from Germany and the United Kingdom (Cambridge). He started his career in the legal department of the Federal Ministry of Economics in Bonn in 1983. In 1986-87, he worked at the German Mission to the United Nations in New York. Further postings abroad were in Athens and Sydney.

Before being put in charge of trade policy in 2001, his responsibilities at the Ministry of Economics in Berlin comprised a range of issues, such as budget, human resources and general administration.

At the WTO, Karl Brauner's  areas of responsibility include the two legal divisions dealing with the WTO's dispute settlement system (Rules and Legal Affairs), the division for administration and general services including budget and finance as well as the human resources division.


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Alan Wm. Wolff

Alan Wolff began his four-year term as Deputy Director-General on 1 October 2017.

Ambassador Alan Wm. Wolff, formerly Senior Counsel at the global law firm Dentons, is one of the world’s leading international trade lawyers. He has been engaged to resolve some of the largest international trade disputes on record. For the last six years he has served as the Chairman of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) which was called into being by President Wilson in 1914 to support open international trade and which today represents hundreds of American companies who employ millions of workers. He is Chairman of the Board of the Institute for Trade and Commercial Diplomacy (ITCD).

Ambassador Wolff served as United States Deputy Special Representative for Trade Negotiations in the Carter Administration and was General Counsel of the Office in the Ford Administration. He was acting Head of the U.S. Delegation for the Tokyo Round, and a principal draftsman of the basic U.S. law creating a mandate for trade negotiations. As Deputy USTR he was a founder of the OECD Steel Committee and its first chairman. He has served as a senior trade negotiator in, and advisor to, both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Prior to his service at USTR, he served in the U.S. Treasury as staff attorney for the National Advisory Committee on International Monetary and Financial Policy, participating in the work of the OECD Development Assistance Committee, reviewing lending policies in the IMF and the World Bank, and participating in the drafting of the Articles of Agreement of the African Development Fund. He was director of the Treasury’s Office of Multilateral Trade Negotiations. 

He is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), is a lifetime National Associate of the National Academies, having served several terms on the Science, Technology and Economic Policy Board of the Academies and chairing its Committee on Comparative Innovation Policies. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the E15 Initiative’s Experts Group (Innovation).  

He has lectured and written extensively on trade topics including the need for a strong, open rules-based multilateral trading system. 

He holds a J.D. degree from Columbia University and an A.B. degree from Harvard College. He is married to the Rev. Helene N. Wolff, and has three children and six grandchildren.


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Yi Xiaozhun

Yi Xiaozhun began his first term as Deputy Director-General of the WTO on 1 October 2013. He was appointed for a second four-year term, starting on 1 October 2017.

Yi Xiaozhun has extensive experience in world trade and economics, both as a senior government official and subsequently as China's ambassador to the WTO.

He represented China as a key negotiator in China’s WTO accession process, making an important contribution to the negotiations.

Prior to becoming China's ambassador to the WTO in 2011, Mr Yi was Assistant Minister and subsequently China's Vice Minister of Commerce in charge of multilateral and regional trade negotiations and cooperation. Besides his contribution to China’s WTO accession, he played a leading role in negotiating numerous free trade agreements (FTAs), including the China-ASEAN agreement, China's first FTA, and advanced China's involvement with Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC), the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the 10+3 East Asia Summit (EAS) and related high-level meetings. He also worked as a diplomat at the Chinese Embassy in the United States for more than four years from the late 1980s to the early 1990s.

After becoming China’s ambassador to the WTO, Mr Yi was elected as the Chair of the Working Party of the Accession of Lao PDR and showed effective leadership in the process leading to WTO membership for Laos.

Mr Yi obtained a Master's degree in economics from Nankai University in China in 1999.

He is married to Meng Xiaoling and has one daughter.

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David Shark 

David Shark has had a long career in trade policy. He began in 1975 with a short stint in the US Department of Labor, working on petitions for trade adjustment assistance. In March 1976, he moved to the Office of Trade Policy in the Department of Commerce where he was deeply involved in the Tokyo Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations and he has been actively involved in the GATT and WTO ever since.

In 1980, he joined the Office of the United States Trade Representative. He held a broad range of responsibilities, including serving as Executive Director of the US Generalized System of Preferences, Deputy Assistant US Trade Representative for Trade Policy Coordination, Deputy Assistant US Trade Representative for Europe and the Middle East and Deputy Assistant US Trade Representative for Environment and Natural Resources. 

From 1988 to 1995 he served in USTR’s Geneva office, working on the Uruguay Round of Trade Negotiations and the implementation of the resulting agreements. During that time, he was responsible for negotiations and other work on the agreement creating the WTO, the Dispute Settlement Understanding, TRIMs/investment, anti-dumping, subsidies, customs valuation, government procurement, technical barriers to trade, import licensing, trade and environment, and trade and worker rights. He returned to Geneva in June 2000 and up to September 2013 served as the US Deputy Chief of Mission and Deputy Permanent Representative to the WTO. In that capacity, he had broad responsibilities covering the full gamut of issues before the WTO.

Mr Shark is a native of Brooklyn, New York, and holds a Bachelor of Arts from Brooklyn College and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International Affairs. He is married to Lidian Shark and has two children, Daniel and Melanie.

DDGs under DG Lamy

Four Deputy Directors-General served under Director-General Pascal Lamy from October 2005 to September 2013: Alejandro JaraValentine Sendanyoye RugwabizaHarsha Vardhana Singh and Rufus H. YerxaDavid Shark served under Director-General Roberto Azevêdo from September 2013 to October 2017.

Alejandro Jara 

Alejandro Jara was born in 1949 in Santiago, Chile. He studied high school in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Santiago, Chile. In 1973 he obtained his law degree from the Universidad de Chile. With the support of a Fulbright scholarship he pursued graduate studies at the Law School, University of California at Berkeley (1975-1976).

In 1976 he joined the Foreign Service of Chile where he has specialized in international economic relations. He served in the Delegation of Chile to the GATT in Geneva (1979-1984) and was seconded to the Economic System for Latin America (SELA) in Caracas as Coordinator for Trade Policy Affairs. He was appointed Director for Bilateral Economic Affairs (1993-1994), Director for Multilateral Economic Affairs (1994-1999). During 1996 — 1997 he also served as Chile’s Senior Official to APEC. At the same period he was deputy Chief negotiator for the Chile — Canada Free Trade Agreement and in 1997-1998 he was Chief negotiator for the Chile — Mexico Free Trade Agreement. In July 1999 he was designated Director General for International Economic Relations.

In June 2000 he was appointed as Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Chile to the World Trade Organization in Geneva. During 2001 he served as Chairperson of the Committee on Trade and Environment of the WTO. In February 2002 he was elected as Chairman of the Special Session of the Council for Trade in Services, which is in charge of the negotiations mandated by Ministers in Doha. He is author of numerous articles and papers on international trade.

Mr. Jara is married to Daniela Benavente and has three children, Rafael Alejandro (1986), Octavia Verónica (2003) and Matilde (2007).


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Valentine Sendanyoye Rugwabiza 

Prior to becoming DDG, Valentine Sendanyoye Rugwabiza served for three years as Ambassador of Rwanda to the United Nations in Geneva and Switzerland.

Before joining the public service, Valentine Sendanyoye Rugwabiza had a long career in the private sector, at national and international level, where she occupied several senior management positions, including in a Swiss multinational where she worked for eight years.

Valentine Sendanyoye Rugwabiza was a member of the economic and social Council of the President of Rwanda, a founding member of the Rwandan Women's Caucus, the association of women entrepreneurs, and the Rwandese federation of the private sector.

Valentine Sendanyoye Rugwabiza is married to John Paulin Sendanyoye.


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Harsha Vardhana Singh 

Harsha Vardhana Singh completed his Masters in Economics from Delhi in 1979 and went to the University of Oxford (U.K.) as a Rhodes Scholar from India to obtain his M.Phil. and Ph.D. in Economics.

He worked as consultant with the Bureau of Industrial Costs and Prices (Government of India) in New Delhi, and ILO and UNCTAD in Geneva before joining the GATT Secretariat. Mr. Singh worked for 12 years in the GATT/WTO Secretariat, in various parts of the organization, including the Office of the WTO Director General (1996-97), the Trade and Environment and Technical Barriers to Trade Division (1995-96), Rules Division (1991-95), Trade Policy Review Division (1989-1991), and the Economic Research and Analysis Unit (1985-1989). The work covered diverse areas such as servicing Committees in the area of GATT Rules, secretary of dispute settlement panels, Uruguay Round negotiations, interacting with other agencies, and a range of other activities in the Director General’s office including co-ordination of in-house activities and those involving other multilateral organizations.

In June 1997, Mr. Singh joined the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) as Economic Advisor, in the year when the Telecom Regulatory Body was established by the Government of India to strengthen the regulatory process and telecom policy reform in the country. Since May 2001, Mr. Singh has been the Secretary cum Principal Advisor of the TRAI. In this capacity, he was Head of the TRAI Secretariat, and was involved in all policy initiatives of TRAI, and all interactions of TRAI with national and international agencies/bodies, including multilateral agencies, regulatory bodies, the relevant bodies in the Government and the Indian Parliament. During this period, Mr. Singh was also a member of several High Level Committees to address various policy issues, and has served as Chair of dispute settlement panels of the WTO. He has also been a member of various trade advisory committees of the Indian government and has worked on the Foreign Trade Policy of India.

He has interacted with a number of research Bodies. Recently, he became an Honorary Professor at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), and a member of the visiting faculty at the TERI School of Advanced Studies for their Masters programme in Regulatory Studies. He has authored a number of papers on trade policy and regulatory issues.

Mr. Singh is married to Veena Jha and has two children.


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Rufus H. Yerxa

Mr. Yerxa has an extensive record as a trade negotiator, diplomat and lawyer.  He served as a Presidential appointee in the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) during both Democratic and Republican administrations, first as the Geneva-based Ambassador to the GATT (the predecessor organization to the WTO) and subsequently as the Deputy USTR in Washington.  In these two positions he played a major role in negotiating and securing Congressional approval of both the Uruguay Round/WTO agreement and the NAFTA accord. Prior to these appointments he was with the Committee on Ways and Means of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served as Staff Director of the Subcommittee on Trade.

After leaving U.S. government service in 1995, Mr. Yerxa was engaged in private law practice. He was a resident partner in the Brussels office of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, where his practice focused on international trade matters and European regulatory affairs.  

Mr. Yerxa is a native of Washington State and grew up in the Seattle area.  He received his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Washington, his law degree from the University of Puget Sound School of Law and an LLB in international law from the University of Cambridge.  He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar.  Mr. Yerxa is married to Barbara J. McSweeney. They have two children, Gavin and Haley .





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