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Pascal Lamy to seek second WTO term

Text by REUTERS

Latest update : 2008-11-04

Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Lamy has announced that he will run for a second term, vowing to complete the Doha round of trade talks, launched seven years ago. His current term expires in August 2009.

The director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Pascal Lamy, said on Tuesday he would seek a second term as head of the organisation and renewed his vow to conclude the Doha round of talks to open up world trade.

Lamy's entire first term has been dominated by the WTO's Doha round, launched seven years ago in the Qatari capital.

In a letter to the chairman of the WTO General Council, Bruce Gosper, he said that concluding the Doha round would go a long way towards establishing a multilateral trading system and ensuring that opening up trade would serve developing countries -- goals Lamy said he would fight for when he took the job.

"I would hereby like to notify you of my decision to seek reappointment as Director-General of the World Trade Organisation for a further term upon the expiry of the current one on 31 August 2009," he said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

Brazil's Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim, himself frequently tipped as a future head of the WTO, said he had encouraged Lamy to run again.

"I think he's a great asset for the organisation. He is someone who has shown fairness, understanding, courage but at the same time equilibrium, so he has the qualities to continue to steer this ship," he told reporters after meeting Lamy earlier on Tuesday.

Marathon man

In July, the marathon-running Frenchman suffered a big disappointment when ministers failed to secure a breakthrough in the Doha talks despite coming close in many areas.

Lamy argues that reaching a deal in the Doha talks would boost confidence in a world economy staggering from the global finance crisis and ward off protectionism.

In a speech on Monday to the Geneva Shipping and Trading Association, Lamy said the current financial chaos meant that greater regulation was needed for both trade and finance.

"What is desperately needed at a time like this is to restore trust in markets by reassuring investors that they are still operating within a rules-based international trade and financial system," he said.

Amorim, one of the keenest supporters of a Doha deal, said he hoped the Nov. 15 summit of major rich and poor countries to discuss the financial crisis, would also instruct trade ministers to reach an outline agreement in the coming weeks.

"The only way to move it is some impulse coming from outside and the impulse from outside has to be from the leaders... in the context of saving the world from a big crisis," he said.

Amorim said the financial crisis was threatening trade by blocking credit, while progress on a Doha deal would send a positive signal to the world economy.

Lamy was widely credited with nursing French bank Credit Lyonnais back to health from near-bankruptcy, latterly as its chief executive in 1999, an experience that stood him in good stead in dealing with the impact of the crisis on trade.

Credit Lyonnais was subsequently acquired by its local rival Credit Agricole in 2003.

Lamy, who was formerly trade chief for the European Union, became director-general of the WTO in September 2005, and his four-year term ends in August next year.

Under WTO rules the selection process for a head begins nine months before the expiry of the incumbent's term. Gosper, Australia's WTO ambassador as well as the council's chairman, said three weeks ago that the process would start on Dec. 1.

Under WTO rules the body's 153 member states can nominate candidates in December to run against Lamy.

Candidates would be able to campaign during the first three months of 2009. A committee of three senior WTO ambassadors, including the council chairman, would then consult with members to make an appointment by May 31.

Date created : 2008-11-04

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