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11 May 2005

The UN General Assembly yesterday confirmed the appointment of Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, current head of the WTO, as the new Secretary-General of UNCTAD, effective 1 September, for a four-year term. Dr. Supachai, who has spent most of his career in government, diplomacy, finance and trade, is no newcomer to UNCTAD, having served as President of UNCTAD X in Bangkok five years ago.

Dr. Supachai follows Rubens Ricupero, a Brazilian national, who was UNCTAD Secretary-General from September 1995 to September 2004. Carlos Fortin (Chile) has been serving as Officer-in-Charge of UNCTAD since Mr. Ricupero´s departure.

During his three-year tenure at the WTO, which began on 1 September 2002, Dr. Supachai played a key role in implementing the Doha Work Programme. He is also an internationally respected academic, with a doctorate in Economic Planning and Development from the Netherlands School of Economics (now Erasmus University), and he has published widely on trade issues.

Dr. Supachai´s experience in international finance issues stems from his work with the Bank of Thailand (1974-1986). He later chaired the sub-committee that drew up Thailand´s Seventh National Economic and Social Development Plan, and in 1992 was appointed Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand responsible for economic and trade policy. He also served as Minister of Commerce (1997-2002).

"Dr. Supachai has played a crucial role in building confidence in the multilateral trading system", says Mr. Fortin. "The tenacity with which he has pursued the goals of multilateralism at the WTO and his deep-rooted belief in the central place of trade in development are universally admired. His expertise, international prestige and commitment to development are a guarantee of forward-looking leadership for UNCTAD".

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