• Lamy (l) and Zoellick were counterparts during the last tenure of the European Commission (Photo: European Commission)

US supports Lamy for head of WTO

06.04.05 @ 09:53

  1. By Filipe Rufino

The former French EU commissioner for trade and candidate for head of the World Trade Organisation’s , Pascal Lamy, would serve the institution "very well", the US deputy secretary of state Robert Zoellick has said.

Speaking on Tuesday (5 April) at a press conference in Geneva, Mr Zoellick, who was Mr Lamy’s American counterpart during the last tenure of the European Commission, said the Frenchman is "a very solid candidate" for the helm of the organisation and recommended that he travel to Washington to put his ideas to the Bush Administration.

The US has not yet officially indicated which candidate it will support for the position, fuelling speculation that Washington will back Mr Lamy for the WTO as a reward for tacit European support of Mr Wolfowitz’s bid to be head of the World Bank.

However, even if "the WTO would be very well served by his candidacy", Mr Zoellick quickly added that "there are other candidates as well".

The other candidates to head the WTO are Brazil's WTO ambassador Luis Filipe Seixas Corrêa, who has China's support, Mauritius Foreign Minister Jaya Krishna Cuttaree, favoured by India, and Uruguayan WTO veteran Carlos Perez del Castillo, backed by Australia.

The WTO General Council will nominate a new WTO director general on 31 May 2005 at the latest, with the winner starting work on 1 September. The four candidates have been in the race for the presidency of the international trade organisation since 31 December 2004.

The previous mandate, of six years, was split between Thai Supachai Panitchpakdi (who has been in charge since 2002) and New Zealander Mike Moore. Each served a three-year term in an unprecedented compromise deal.