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Business

Pascal Lamy re-elected head of WTO

Latest update : 2009-04-30

Frenchman Pascal Lamy has been unanimously re-elected director-general of the World Trade Organisation for a second term of four years by the organisation's 153 member states. He was unchallenged for the post.

AFP - World Trade Organisation member states unanimously endorsed the trade body's current director-general Pascal Lamy to head the organisation for four more years, the WTO announced.

Lamy was unchallenged for the post, marking the first time that an incumbent director-general stood unopposed, they said.

Lamy's post was meant to have come up for election, but none of the organisation's 153 member states put forward another candidate by the deadline of December 31, 2008.

The Frenchman, who took the helm of the global trade watchdog in September 2005, announced last November that he would aim to take on a second term in office when his current four-year mandate expires in August.

Accepting the endorsement, Lamy told member states: "I am sure that the next four years will be difficult ... but I am sure that we can get out of this tempest unscathed."

Previous leadership races at the global trade body have often been fractious affairs that highlighted splits between rich and poor countries or between Europeans and the United States.

In 1999, the wrangling was only resolved by a compromise decision to appoint the two outstanding candidates on a shortened term of three years each.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Mike Moore was followed by the former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, Supachai Panitchpakdi.

Lamy, a former French government official and the European Union's trade commissioner until 2004, has championed the rules-based global free trade system the WTO underpins during his tenure.

In recent months he has also reiterated warnings against protectionism as the economic crisis has deepened.

But he has also been unable to overcome long-standing divisions between industralised and developing nations, agricultural exporters and importers that have kept the seven year-old Doha Round of trade negotiations in stalemate.

The last WTO ministerial meeting collapsed in mid-2008 without an agreement to remove barriers to trade in agriculture, industrial goods and services, and attempts to organise another ministerial in December floundered.

Date created : 2009-04-30

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