On Thursday, World Trade Organization head Roberto Azevedo in a surprise move announced that he will step down on a year ahead of his planned departure.
"At a virtual meeting of all WTO members on May 14, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo announced that he would step down on August 31, cutting his second term short by exactly one year," WTO said in a statement.
The 62-year-old Brazilian has been director-general since 2013 and is serving a second term that was due to conclude at the end of August 2021.
In his statement, Azevedo said that "it is a personal decision - a family decision - and I am convinced that this decision serves the best interests of this Organization."
"As members start to shape the WTO's agenda for the new post-COVID realities, they should do so with a new director-general," he told a virtual WTO meeting on Thursday.
In recent weeks Azevêdo has joined leaders from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in calling for countries to put aside their differences and reduce trade barriers to support economic growth.
The organisation has come under sustained attack from free-market supporters, especially in the US.
In defending the organisation, Azevedo said: "The WTO may not be perfect, but it is indispensable all the same. It is what keeps us from a world where the law of the jungle prevails, at least as far as trade is concerned."