in Bangkok in 1946, he attended school there at St. Gabriel's College
and Triam Udom School. From 1963-1973, under scholarship from the Bank
of Thailand, Dr. Supachai received his Master's Degree in
Econometrics, Development Planning and his Ph.D. in Economic Planning
and Development at the Netherlands School of Economics (now known as
Erasmus University) in Rotterdam.
In 1973, Dr Supachai completed
his doctoral dissertation on Human Resource Planning and Development
under supervision of Professor Jan Tinbergen — the first Nobel
laureate in economics. His dissertation was subsequently published under
the title Educational Planning and Growth in Developing Countries by
Rotterdam Press and widely used by universities in Europe.
same year, was accepted as a visiting Fellow at Cambridge University
and conducted research on development models.
Supachai began his professional career at the Bank of Thailand in
1974, working initially in the Research Department. Later, he moved to
other divisions, including the International Finance Division and the
Financial Institutions Supervision Department.
his tenure at the BOT, which lasted until 1986, his expertise in
economics and financial matters was widely recognized. Dr. Supachai
acted as spokesman for the BOT for a brief period. He was a principal
figure in devising measures to bail out troubled financial
institutions in the early 1980s and was instrumental in the BOT's
tight control on the public sector's external borrowings as well as
the passage of legislation aimed at abolishing non-formal and illegal
financial institutions in the system.
1986, Dr. Supachai relinquished his post as the Director of the
Financial Institutions Supervision Department to run for Parliament.
With his notable track record at the BOT and his successful campaign,
he was appointed Deputy Minister of Finance.
his first political term, he introduced the value-added tax system,
laid the foundation for the establishment of the country's
Export-Import Bank and improved channels for the utilization of state
enterprises' funds for the government. He also helped devise strong
fiscal disciplines which subsequently led to a continuing series of
budget surpluses, thus enabling Thailand to achieve a high economic
growth rate for many years.
dissolution of Parliament in 1988, Dr. Supachai was appointed Director
and Advisor, and subsequently President, of the Thai Military Bank. As
bank president, he vigorously promoted its overseas expansion. His
involvement in the business sector deepened through his chairmanship
of several corporations. At the same time, he maintained his contacts
in academic circles through contributions to a number of universities.
1992, he was appointed Senator and led a sub-committee to draw up
Thailand's Seventh National Economic and Social Development Plan
to politics in 1992, Dr. Supachai became Deputy Prime Minister
entrusted with oversight of the country's economic and trade policy
making. He supervised key economic offices, including the Budget
Bureau, the National Economic and Social Development Board, the
Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Industry, and the Ministry of
Agriculture and Cooperatives. In the process, he set policy directives
on macro-economic management for the country. He held the position of
Deputy Prime Minister until 1995.
Deputy Prime Minister, he was actively involved in international trade
policy. A staunch supporter of free and fair trade, Dr. Supachai
played a pivotal role in the international arena, principally in the
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and in the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). He also promoted efforts to
liberalise trade in the region through what has become the ASEAN Free
Trade Area (AFTA).
active participation in ASEAN regional activities helped forge closer
relationships between member countries and enhanced their position as
a unified economic grouping with a strong voice in international
chairman of Thailand's International Economic Policy Committee, Dr.
Supachai was highly influential in charting the country's
international trade and economic policies.
1993, he convinced the public and the private sectors on the need for
Thailand to accept the Uruguay Round package and consequently helped
steer its ratification through Parliament. Dr. Supachai represented
Thailand at the signing ceremony of the Uruguay Round Agreement in
Marrakesh and he has ensured his government's full and faithful
implementation of its obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO).
the wider regional and inter-regional stage, Dr. Supachai has played
instrumental roles as initiator and active supporter of numerous trade
and investment facilitating fora, groupings and development projects.
He was also instrumental in the conceptualization of the New Zealand
government private sector-sponsored Asia 2000 Foundation, of which he
is Honorary Advisor. Dr. Supachai has made significant contributions
to the Emerging Asia Project of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in
commemorating the Bank's 30th anniversary and he has been named to the
project's Advisory Board.
Supachai was the first to push for the formation of the Asia Europe
Meeting (ASEM) that draws together heads of governments from Asia and
Europe to foster closer ties between the nations of the two
continents. He first proposed the formation of ASEM at the East Asia
Economic Forum in Singapore in 1992.
has been a major driving force behind the Greater Mehong Sub-region
from its inception, pushing for closer economic integration between
the economies of Yunnan China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and
was also the initiator in the BIMST-EC consultative group that links
countries in South and Southeast Asia, namely Bangladesh; India,
Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. His contributions to the grouping
are well recognized. He was co-founder of the ASEAN-Japan working
group on Indochina and Myanmar, along with former Prime Minister
Ryotaro Hashimoto of Japan.
the change of government in November 1997 in the wake of Thailand's
financial crisis, Dr. Supachai was appointed Deputy Prime Minister in
charge of economic policies, and Minister of Commerce.
his capacity as Minister of Commerce, Dr. Supachai relaxed Thailand's
restrictions on foreign participation and ownership and thoroughly
revised the Alien Business Law. He brought the country's accounting
standards into line with international practices to enhance and ensure
transparency in the economic system. In 2000, Dr. Supachai was awarded
the Nikkei Asia Prize (Regional Growth).
2001, he was appointed Visiting Professor of the International
Institute for Management Development in Lausanne.
He has published a number of books
including Globalization and Trade in the New Millenium (2001)
and China and the WTO: Changing China Changing World Trade
(2002, co-authored with Mark Clifford).
Supachai is the Chairman of the Board of Governors of Yonok College in
Lampang, Thailand where he serves as chairman for thirteen years.
September 1999, he was elected Director General of World Trade
Organization (WTO) taking office on 1 September 2002.
Supachai is married to Mrs. Sasai and has a son and a daughter.