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WTO Image Takes A Hit From Leadership Fight

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is threatened by lasting damage from a squabble over the choice of a new director-general and other controversies. The leadership struggle pits Mike Moore, former prime minister of New Zealand, against Supachai Painitchpakdi, previously Thailand's commerce minister. The risks for the WTO lie in a dented public image that could trigger regional and global trade wars. A particularly dangerous issue is the disregard by the 15-nation European Union for the WTO's deadline to lift a 10-year ban on U.S. and Canadian beef produced with genetically engineered hormones. Also, divisions among member states are handicapping efforts by China to join the WTO. The Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which is holding a summit this month, is urging the G7 nations to take speedy action. ICC said the seven countries, accompanied by Russia, must act fast to resolve current trade disputes and create a climate of goodwill for the next round of multilateral trade negotiations.

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