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Next World Trade Chief to Face Pressure on Doha Round of Talks

I’m Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Economics Report.

Pascal Lamy of France is expected to start as director-general of the World Trade Organization on September first. Mister Lamy became the choice of the organization last week after the last of three other candidates withdrew.

Carlos Perez del Castillo of Uruguay was the last to withdraw. Jaya Krishna Cuttaree of Mauritius and Luiz Felipe Seixas Correa of Brazil also withdrew from consideration.

Unlike many groups, the World Trade Organization seeks consensus among its members on issues and appointments. That means one hundred forty-eight governments all have to agree.

Pascal Lamy is a former trade commissioner for the European Union. He will be the fifth director-general since the World Trade Organization was established in nineteen ninety-five. His four-year appointment can be renewed.

He follows Supachai Panitchpakdi of Thailand who is completing a special three-year term. Mister Supachai will become secretary general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Mister Lamy will be under pressure to complete the Doha Round, the current series of world trade negotiations. The Doha Round began in Qatar in November of two thousand one. The goal was to finish by January of this year.

Reforms in agricultural trade are among the most strongly argued issues. Developing countries want industrial nations to limit or end financial assistance to farmers. France is among the industrial nations that want to continue support programs.

Mister Lamy says he will work hard to place the interests of developing nations at the center of the world trading system. And he says the W.T.O. ministerial meeting in Hong Kong will be, in his words, "an important stepping stone towards this goal." That meeting is planned for December.

In another development, Iran will join thirty other nations that have begun the process of entering the World Trade Organization. Iran had first sought to begin membership talks in nineteen ninety-six. But the United States repeatedly objected.

The United States withdrew its objections after Iran reached an agreement in May with Britain, France and Germany. Iran agreed to suspend enrichment of uranium in its nuclear program at least until the end of July.

This VOA Special English Economics Report was written by Mario Ritter. Our reports are on the Web at I'm Gwen Outen.