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Supachai to Take UNTAD Helm After Stepping Down From WTO

BNA - March 1, 2005

GENEVA--Outgoing World Trade Organization Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi has been selected to become the next head of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced Feb. 28.

Supachai, whose three-year term at the helm of the WTO ends on Sept. 1, will replace Rubens Ricupero, the former Brazilian finance minister who stepped down last September after nine years in the post. UNCTAD is based at the U.N.'s European headquarters in Geneva and within walking distance of the WTO.

"I am absolutely delighted that Supachai Panitchpakdi has agreed that I should propose his appointment as the next Secretary-General" of UNCTAD, Annan said in a prepared statement.

"Dr. Supachai has done an outstanding job as Director-General of the World Trade Organization, particularly in pushing forward the very difficult process of the Doha round, on which rest many of the hopes for economic progress in developing countries," the U.N. chief added.

Supachai's nomination will now go to the U.N. General Assembly for confirmation. If confirmed, Supachai will take up the UNCTAD job on Sept. 1.

Established in 1964, UNCTAD serves as the United Nations' forum for talks on trade and development issues and undertakes research and analysis for member governments. It also provides technical assistance to developing countries.

The organization has not always been a favorite of Washington, with U.S.

officials criticizing UNCTAD for becoming too involved in WTO trade talks and preparing negotiating positions on behalf of developing countries.

Supachai's successor at the WTO is due to be selected by the end of May. The four candidates to succeed the Thai national are Carlos Perez del Castillo, special advisor on international trade negotiations to the president of Uruguay; former European Union trade commissioner Pascal Lamy of France; Brazil's WTO ambassador Luiz Felipe de Seixas Correa; and Mauritius' foreign affairs and trade minister Jayakrishna Cuttaree.