TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (May05/3)

5 May 2005

Two candidates left in race for WTO Director-General

The race for who will be the next Director General of the WTO has narrowed down to two candidates: Pascal Lamy of France and Carlos Perez del Castillo of Uruguay.

At a meeting at the WTO on Friday 29 April, the chair of the General Council announced that the Mauritius Foreign and Trade Minister Mr Cuttaree, had withdrawn.

Below is a report on the recent developments.

With best wishes
Martin Khor


Two candidates left in race for WTO Director-General

By Kanaga Raja, Geneva, 2 May 2005
From South-North Development Monitor (SUNS) 3 May 2005

A third and final round of consultations on a revised slate of two candidates to select the next Director-General of the WTO will get underway during the week of 9 May, an informal WTO meeting at the level of Heads of Delegation (HOD) was told late Friday.

The two candidates are Pascal Lamy (former EC Trade Commissioner) and Carlos Perez del Castillo (former ambassador of Uruguay to the WTO). The two candidates were announced in that order by the General Council Chair Ambassador Amina Chawahir Mohamed of Kenya, both in terms of preferences expressed by members and breadth of support in the second round of consultations held from April 21-27.

The third candidate, Jaya Krishna Cuttaree, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Regional Cooperation of Mauritius, came at the end of the list in the order of preferences announced by the General Council Chair. At the end of the HOD meeting, the Chair informed members that she had been advised by the Mauritius ambassador to the WTO that Cuttaree had decided to withdraw his candidacy.

The informal meeting was called by Ambassador Amina to report to the membership on the outcome of the second round of consultations (or 'confessionals' in WTO jargon) that was held on 21-27 April.

Ambassador Amina is being assisted in her consultations by two other WTO officials, the Chair of the Dispute Settlement Body, Ambassador Eirik Glenne of Norway and the Chair of the Trade Policy Review Body, Ambassador Donald Stephenson of Canada.

The first round of consultations got underway on 4-13 April with a slate of four candidates. The aim of the first round was to eliminate one of the candidates, with another candidate to be eliminated in the second round, leaving two candidates for a third and final round.

In the first round of consultations, Ambassador Luiz Felipe de Seixas Correa of Brazil was eliminated when he came at the end of the list in the order of preferences announced by Ambassador Amina.

At the informal meeting Friday, Ambassador Amina reported that based on an assessment of the information provided by delegations during consultations by her and the two facilitators, Jaya Krishna Cuttaree of Mauritius was judged the candidate 'least likely of the three to attract consensus.'

She said that Pascal Lamy enjoyed the 'highest level of support' from members, both in terms of preferences and breadth of support.

"On this basis, therefore, we intend to begin a third and final round of consultations during the week of 9 May, which will be based on a revised slate of two candidates, as follows: Mr. Carlos Perez del Castillo and Mr. Pascal Lamy."

She indicated that she and the two facilitators will once again meet with individual delegations in her office at the WTO for 5 minutes each and that delegations would be invited to respond to the same question that was posed in the two rounds of consultations: "What are your preferences?"

She emphasized that the consultations will continue at the level of Heads of Delegation and that the process is to conclude with a General Council meeting convened not later than 31 May, at which a decision to appoint a new Director-General must be taken.

The General Council Chair reported to members that by the end of the second round of consultations on 27 April, she had received views from 144 members out of a total membership of 148. Of these, 122 are Geneva-based, and 22 are non-resident delegations. Of the 4 delegations that had not expressed their views by the end of the second round, only 1 is non-resident.

Members were consulted individually, in their capacity as representatives of members and not of country groupings, regarding the views of their respective authorities on the candidates nominated for the post. All delegations were invited to respond to the question: "What are your preferences?"

Ambassador Amina said that in assessing the information received, and in reporting to members, she and her two colleagues have been guided strictly by the elements set out in paragraph 17 of the 2002 Procedures for the Appointment of Director-General (WT/L/509), which she said required them to assess Members' preferences and the breadth of support for each candidate.

Paragraph 17 states that "the ultimate aim of the consultation process shall be to identify the candidate around whom consensus can be built. In order to do this, it may be necessary to conduct successive consultations to identify the candidate or candidates least likely to attract such a consensus."

In assessing the preferences expressed by Members, she said that she and her two colleagues were guided by the provisions of paragraph 17. Preferences were weighed both in the rankings, if any, given by Members, and as a whole. "Our assessment was the same, whichever way the preferences were examined," she said.

As regards the breadth of support, she said that they had once again considered the distribution of preferences across geographic regions and among the categories of Members generally recognized in WTO provisions: that is, LDCs, developing countries and developed countries. Other criteria were rejected, including political groupings or any measure of the size of individual Members, whether in terms of trade, or population or territory.

The Chair stressed that these criteria are not recognized in WTO provisions, or were discussed and rejected by Members in the formulation of the Procedures in 2002.

"As this is the final phase of the consultation process, it should bring us to the point where we can make a recommendation to the General Council" concerning a final decision on appointment, she said.

Unlike at the previous informal HOD meeting on 15 April where the outcome of the first round of consultations was announced, there were no interventions made by delegations at the informal HOD meeting Friday.

At the informal HOD meeting on 15 April, Ambassador Amina had said that a small number of delegations had indicated some concern over the ability of the French candidate to lead the organization. She had also mentioned that other concerns were raised by some members about a candidate (she did not specify who it was) who asked her not to record these concerns and that these could wait till the future.

However, when speaking to the media after the informal meeting late Friday, Ambassador Amina said that she did not mention this issue to the members. The concerns did not affect the assessment that they (she and the two facilitators) had made, she said, adding that the procedures are very clear on what they need to look for in order to make their assessment.

Carlo Trojan, the EC Ambassador to the WTO, in speaking to the media later, said that as far as he knew, there were no objections expressed to Pascal Lamy's candidacy.

In a brief statement, Peter Mandelson, the EC Trade Commissioner, said: "This is welcome and encouraging for Pascal Lamy. I detect a good tide in his favour and I believe this is good for the WTO and its work."