Lamy To Head WTO

    May 14, 2005
    Chris Crum

Former European Union commissioner Pascal Lamy of France has won the head position at the World Trade Organization (WTO) now that his opponent, Carlos Perez del Castillo withdrew his candidacy.

“I have already requested to withdraw my candidacy,” said Castillo. “I have tried to reach Mr. Lamy to congratulate him. We have a difficult task ahead, and right now above all it important to concentrate on finishing this round.” Castillo is Uruguay’s senior trade negotiator and is the former chairman of the WTO’s governing council.

A special selection panel advised Castillo to drop out of the race because Lamy was much more heavily supported from WTO members. A formal decision on who won the position will not be released until May 26, but the European Commission has confirmed that Lamy got the job. The Washington Post explains,

Lamy has a particularly delicate tightrope walk to perform, some trade experts think. As director-general, he has little formal power beyond “moral suasion” in trying to forge consensus among the member nations. As an official who represented Europe’s position on the main issues — he stepped down as the E.U. trade commissioner in November after a five-year term — he may enjoy both advantages and disadvantages.

“Some of the developing countries wanted a developing-country representative [to become director-general] above all, but some obviously thought that given his background, Lamy would have to bend over backwards to show that he isn’t a protectionist Frenchman,” said Jeffrey J. Schott, a scholar at the Institute for International Economics. “I think that was a big plus; there was a perception that if selected, he would be a strong leader.”

Lamy was the European Union’s trade chief until last year, while Perez del Castillo is Uruguay’s former ambassador to the WTO and a former chairman of the trade body’s ruling general council.

It looks like Lamy will take the place of Supachai Panitchpakdi of Thailand, who steps down at the end of August. Lamy was the EU’s trade chief until last year. Castillo is Uruguay’s former ambassador to the WTO.

Chris is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.