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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 May, 2005, 01:14 GMT 02:14 UK
Pascal Lamy set to head the WTO
Pascal Lamy
Mr Lamy has long sought the top job at the WTO
Pascal Lamy has said he intends to respect the diversity of views among members of the World Trade Organisation when he becomes its director general.

Mr Lamy, the French former European Union trade commissioner, was speaking hours after his Uruguayan rival for the job withdrew from the race.

Mr Lamy now seems certain to be confirmed as the new head of the WTO.

The WTO's global trade talks are making painfully slow progress, partly because of rifts between rich and poor nations.

Mr Lamy said he saw it as his role to "try to broker...some sort of consensus" on sensitive issues.

Most support

Uruguayan diplomat Carlos Perez del Castillo asked his government to withdraw his nomination after learning Mr Lamy had the strongest support among the 148 members of the global trade umpire.

"I would like to congratulate Pascal Lamy and to wish him the best of luck," Mr Perez del Castillo said.

Mr Perez del Castillo, who is Uruguay's former ambassador to the WTO, said he accepted the result, which he learned of from his country's current ambassador to the Geneva-based body.

He added that he expected no obstacles would keep Mr Lamy from taking up the post.

Mr Lamy made his remarks at a meeting of Caribbean trade ministers in the Guyanan capital, Georgetown.

Two other candidates for the top job of the WTO, one from Brazil and one from Mauritius, had previously dropped out.

Cultivating consensus

Mr Lamy faces the uphill task of persuading WTO members to reach agreements on a range of thorny issues in time for the planned WTO ministerial summit in Hong Kong in December.

Farm subsidies are among the most sensitive topics, as poor countries say wealthier nations' support for their own farmers prevents African and Asian farmers from climbing out of poverty.

Mr Lamy fought hard to defend EU farm subsidies against criticism from developing nations in his past job as EU Trade Commissioner. But he said taking over the leadership of the WTO would require a different stance: "That was my position at the time. I move to a different position.

"Now how much of myself did I leave in the previous position and how much of myself would I bring to the new position is a sort of 'kitchen-secret' which I am not ready to disclose totally," he added.

EU backs Lamy for trade position
07 Dec 04 |  Business
Lamy tidies before his departure
25 Oct 04 |  Business
Timeline: World Trade Organization
03 Mar 05 |  Country profiles

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