Geography shouldn't matter in choice of WTO chief: Lamy

Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:38am EDT
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By Kaori Kaneko

TOKYO (Reuters) - World Trade Organization Director General Pascal Lamy said on Saturday that there was no system of rotating his job between countries and regions and his successor should be picked on the basis of competence alone.

Lamy, who will leave the WTO after two terms in August 2014, said it was up to the organization's member countries to decide on the criteria for selecting the new WTO chief who will oversee unfinished negotiations over trade liberalization.

Emerging market countries will want to see one of their own in charge of the Geneva-based trading club after the top jobs at the IMF and the World Bank went to a European and an American following a decades old tradition criticized as being out of line with the new world order.

Lamy said the selection procedure at the WTO is different.

"I don't think this is a geographic rotation system," Lamy told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the semi-annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Tokyo.

"There is nothing in the rules of the WTO that say that if somebody came from this country, then the next one should come from this country. I think what really matters is that it's not a diplomatic game. It's a headhunting game."

Formal nominations are not due until December, but trade diplomats are already assessing chances and gathering names.

Two candidates have formally declared their interest: Ghana's former trade minister Alan Kyerematen and New Zealand's current trade minister Tim Groser. Trade diplomats expect more candidates to emerge.   Continued...

World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Pascal Lamy speaks during an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group in Tokyo October 13, 2012. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao