Sunday, July 18, 1999 Published at 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Business: The Economy
'Breakthrough' on world trade leadership
Mike Moore, the WTO's next designated director-general
The bitter dispute over who should be boss of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) appears to be over.
Mr Moore would then be succeeded by his rival candidate from Thailand, Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, who would serve the remaining three years of the original six-year term.
However, the deal still needs to be formally approved by the WTO council, meeting in Geneva.
Earlier on Sunday, a Thai official had said that his government was "confident and optimistic" that the US and the EU would be able to support such a compromise proposal.
Leaderless for three months
The world's trade watchdog has been without a leader since the end of April.
The stalemate had threatened to deadlock the organisation during a time of rising trade tensions around the world.
The leadership dispute was not a battle between North and South, East and West or rich and poor countries.
Dr Supachai had the support of Japan, Australia, and most Asian countries.
Mr Moore, the preferred candidate of the United States and a majority of Latin American governments, was favoured by many developing countries as well.
The European Union was split over whom to support.
If all sides agree to the deal, the WTO will finally be in a position to enter the next round of global trade talks, scheduled to start this autumn.
Mr Moore, who will be the first to take the helm of the WTO, is a former prime minister of New Zealand.
The 50-year-old is a social democrat and comes from a strong trade union background.
He is a passionate supporter of free trade, but also an advocate for underprivileged and less powerful smaller states.
Dr Supachai is 52 years old and Thailand's deputy prime minister and commerce minister. He is a respected economist with much experience in trade negotiations.
He played a crucial role in leading Thailand out of its worst economic crisis in 50 years, which started two years ago and triggered the economic turmoil across Asia.
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