6 November 2003

Harbinson will give up Agriculture Committee Chair

Stuart Harbinson, Director of the Office of WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi, announced today that he intends to give up the chairmanship of the agriculture negotiations.

Mr. Harbinson, formerly the permanent representative of Hong Kong, China to the WTO, was chosen by WTO Member Governments in February 2002 to chair the Committee on Agriculture in Special Session. He was subsequently selected by Director-General Supachai to serve as his chief of staff later that same year and assumed the post in September 2002. In announcing his decision, Mr. Harbinson said however that he recognized the need for continuity and said he would continue to serve Member Governments as the agriculture chairman until a successor was selected.

“Chairing the agriculture negotiations has been extremely challenging and rewarding. In practice it has been possible to combine the chairmanship with my other duties. However, we are now entering a new phase in the agriculture negotiations and I think a new chairperson may be better able to bring the fresh perspective which we now need. I believe I did what I had to do as chairman over the past 18 months given the mandate issued by Ministers at the 2001 Doha Ministerial Conference. I have no regrets but it is now time for someone else to take up the banner,” he said.