New Zealand Trade Minister Groser Bids to Replace Lamy at WTO

December 21, 2012

New Zealand nominated its trade minister Tim Groser on Friday as the latest candidate to succeed Pascal Lamy as head of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Groser, a former diplomat and trade negotiator, is the fourth declared candidate to take over after Lamy’s second term expires on Aug. 31.

The other contenders are Ghana’s former trade minister Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen, Costa Rica’s Trade Minister Anabel Gonzalez, and former Indonesian trade minister Masri Pangestu.

“Mr. Groser’s work within the GATT and the WTO over several rounds of trade negotiations has provided him with a deep understanding of the importance of the multilateral trading system,” said New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.

Groser, 62, was New Zealand’s ambassador to the WTO between 2002-2005, and chaired the organization’s rules and agricultural negotiating groups.

He had been widely tipped as a candidate, although the fact that the WTO’s first director general was former New Zealand trade minister Mike Moore, is seen as possibly counting against him.

Many trade diplomats think the job should go to an African, Latin American or Caribbean candidate, since all but one head of the 17-year-old WTO has been from developed countries. The exception was Thailand’s Supachai Panitchpakdi.

Lamy has said his successor, chosen by consensus, should be picked on the basis of competence alone.

Other potential candidates include Brazil’s Ambassador to the WTO Roberto Azevedo, South African Trade Minister Rob Davies, the head of Mexico’s competition commission Eduardo Perez Motta, and former Jordanian trade minister Ahmad Al Hindawi.

(Reporting by Gyles Beckford; Editing by Michael Perry)

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