* Gov't says pick shows desire to strengthen WTO
* Azevedo joins group seeking to replace Lamy
BRASILIA, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Brazil on Friday nominated its World Trade Organization representative Roberto Azevedo to become the organization's next chief, making him the latest emerging-market candidate in an increasingly crowded field.
Brazil's foreign ministry said in a statement that Azevedo's candidacy "represents the importance that the country attributes to the strengthening of the WTO."
Current WTO chief Pascal Lamy's second term expires on Aug. 31. Other contenders to replace him include candidates from New Zealand, Ghana, Costa Rica, South Korea and Indonesia. The deadline for candidates to be nominated is midnight Dec. 31.
Brazil is the world's No. 6 economy by some measures and has acquired increased diplomatic clout in recent years. Last year, it successfully nominated Jose Graziano da Silva as chief of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization.
However, Brazil may face greater difficulties in taking a global leadership position on trade. It is the most closed major economy to trade in the Western Hemisphere, according to International Monetary Fund data, and has recently fought with regional peers including Argentina and Mexico over tariffs.