Lamy claims wide backing for WTO job

19th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 19 (AFP) - Pascal Lamy, the former European Union trade commissioner, said Tuesday his candidacy to head the World Trade Organisation has support that extends beyond developed countries.

PARIS, April 19 (AFP) - Pascal Lamy, the former European Union trade commissioner, said Tuesday his candidacy to head the World Trade Organisation has support that extends beyond developed countries.

Lamy, a French Socialist who emerged Friday as the leading candidate for the WTO post, told a meeting of the French association of economics and financial journalists (Ajef) that he has "other supports than those of the North," or developed countries.

"Under all the criteria and notably the criteria of North-South diversity, I am far ahead," he said.

On Friday Lamy was announced the frontrunner in a field of four candidates in the first round of consultations with the WTO's 148 member states to pick a successor for WTO Director General Supachai Panitchpakdi of Thailand, whose term ends on August 31.

The foreign minister of Mauritius, Jayen Cuttaree, ranked second and Uruguay's former trade ambassador Carlos Perez del Castillo was third.

The Brazilian candidate, Luiz Felipe de Seixas Correa, dropped out of the competition Friday after finishing last.

Under WTO rules aimed at streamlining the hunt for a new leader, the bottom-ranked candidate is meant to pull out after each round of consultations.

A second round of consultations is due to begin Thursday and was expected to last 10 days.

The previous leadership race at the WTO in 1999 was marked by bitter divisions among members, including a partial North-South split.

The dispute was resolved by splitting the director general's six-year term between New Zealand's Mike Moore and Supachai, with each getting three years in the job.

This time the WTO is just emerging from a damaging rift between rich and poor countries that blocked key global trade talks for months.

Many trade officials are hoping to complete those talks, which are aimed primarily at expanding free trade in a manner that benefits developing countries, in 2006.

Developing countries, which have grown in political strength at the WTO since the collapse of the organisation's meeting in 2003 in Cancun, Mexico, have been pushing hard to lead the global trade body.

In the WTO's previous guise as the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT), the top international trade post always went to a European.

Lamy formally has the backing of the 25 EU member states, which traditionally try to work in unison at the WTO.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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