WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO


22 July 1999

WTO member governments agree on Director-General succession

Member Governments of the World Trade Organization, agreed Thursday that the Right Honourable Mike Moore of New Zealand be appointed as Director-General for a term of three years, beginning on 1 September. The General Council, the WTO's executive body, further agreed that Mr. Moore would be succeeded by H.E. Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi of Thailand, who will serve a three-year term beginning 1 September 2002.

The decision on the successor to departing Director-General Renato Ruggiero was agreed by 134 member governments and comes after a year-long effort to appoint Mr. Ruggiero's successor. Neither Mr. Moore nor Dr. Supachai will be eligible for reappointment as Director-General and neither will have his period of office extended, the Council agreed.

Member governments stressed that the unprecedented term sharing arrangement did not constitute a precedent for future appointments of the Director-General and agreed to work towards establishing “a comprehensive set of rules and procedures for such appointments” by the end of September 2000.

General Council Chairman Ali Mchumo of Tanzania said he was sure all Member Governments were now fully committed to supporting Mr. Moore and Dr. Supachai. He urged governments to work together to achieve a successful outcome both at the Ministerial Conference, to be held in Seattle from 30 November to 3 December, and during the trade negotiations that will start shortly after the conference.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us as we prepare for Seattle and the subsequent negotiations. It is essential that all of us work together to insure that we have a multilateral trading system which gives benefits to all of our citizens,” Mr. Mchumo said.

The General Council agreed that the Director-General will appoint his Deputy Directors-General in consultation with member governments. The General Council will meet in September to consult on the number of deputies to be appointed..

Rt. Hon. Mike Moore

New Zealand

Mike Moore was born in Whakatane, New Zealand, in 1949. After early experience as a printer, social worker, trade union researcher, in 1972 he became the youngest member of Parliament ever elected in New Zealand. Mr. Moore has served as New Zealand Minister of Overseas Trade and Marketing (1984-1990), Minister of Foreign Affairs (1990), Deputy Minister of Finance (1988-1990) and Prime Minister (1990). As Trade Minister, he was active in launching the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations. He is currently Opposition Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Overseas Trade.

Mr. Moore is the longest serving member of the New Zealand Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade. He represented New Zealand at the first APEC Ministerial Meeting in Canberra in 1989 and served as a board member of Asia 2000, a New Zealand body dedicated to fostering closer ties with Asian countries.

Mr. Moore holds a number of positions in various community groups. He was appointed Constitutional Adviser to the Government of the Cook Islands in 1998. He is the author of eight books including“A Pacific Parliament” and The Added Value Economy”.

H.E. Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi


Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi was born in 1946 in Bangkok. He holds a Masters Degree in Econometrics and Development Planning and a Ph. D. in Economic Planning and Development from Erasmus University, Rotterdam. He was awarded an Honorary Degree (Ph.D.) in Economic Development from the National Institute of Development Administration in 1995.

Dr. Supachai has held a range of positions in former governments, including the position of Deputy Finance Minister of Thailand (1986-1988) and Deputy Prime Minister (1992-1995). In this capacity, he was directly in charge of Thailand's participation in the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations including its subsequent ratification and implementation.

Since 1997, Dr. Supachai has served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce of Thailand and has been actively involved in international trade, playing an instrumental role in the drafting of Thailand's major economic policies, including the national economic and social development plans. Dr. Supachai has also acquired professional experience in the private sector, holding the position of President of the Thai Military Bank (1988-1992) and Chairman of Nava Finance and Securities.