5:35 AM Jul 6, 1994


Geneva 6 July (TWN) -- Informal consultations to select a candidate to head the World Trade Organization will begin in earnest only in autumn, GATT participants said Wednesday after an informal heads of delegations meeting convened by the Chairman of the GATT CPs, Andreas Szepesi.

There are already four candidates who have been officially nominated: Brazilian Finance Minister Rubens Ricupero, Italian former foreign trade minister Renato Ruggiero, Mexican President Salinas de Gortari and South Korean Minister for Trade, Industry and Energy Dr.Kim Chil Su.

The selection will be made out of these four, and any other candidates that may be nominated before end of July which has been set as a deadline for nominations.

The candidate who is informally selected will be formally elected as the Director-General of GATT at the annual meeting of the GATT CPs in December, and will head the WTO when it comes into being until the first Ministerial Conference of the WTO which will formally elect the person chosen as its head.

At Wednesday's informal meeting, New Zealand indicated that while it had not formally put forward a candidate, it had been 'approached' by several countries to present a candidate and it would offer its foreign trade minister in the event none of the four now in the running command a consensus.

Meanwhile, Szepesi hopes to start consultations on the headquarters of the WTO. Switzerland and Germany are vying with each other to host the WTO. Germany had taken a group of GATT ambassadors to Bonn to look at the facilities, while in the meanwhile Switzerland is reported to have further improved its offers in the light of discussions with the GATT delegates.

The general impression among GATT delegations is that Geneva is now favoured over Bonn. A decision on this is expected to be made by the WTO Preparatory Committee before the August recess. The Prepcom is due to meet towards end of July.