Fran O'Sullivan

A columnist for the NZ Herald

Groser going for top WTO job

Trade Minister Tim Groser is after the job of director-general of the World Trade Organisation. Photo / Ross Setford
Trade Minister Tim Groser is after the job of director-general of the World Trade Organisation. Photo / Ross Setford

Trade Minister Tim Groser will throw his hat into the ring for the top international trade job - director-general of the World Trade Organisation.

Groser has yet to formally announce his candidacy for the leading role in international trade diplomacy.

He was due to leave New Zealand today for trade talks in Cambodia and Vladivostock, but has confirmed to the Herald that he will seek the WTO role.

Prime Minister John Key - who was recently taken into Groser's confidence - told the Herald that the New Zealand Government will fully support his bid. Key praised Groser's prowess in the world of international diplomacy where he has been playing an integral role in climate change negotiations as well as trade discussions at G20.

Key will put the spotlight on the Groser bid when he addresses the APEC CEOs' Summit in Vladivostock next week on the pressing need for Asia-Pacific political leaders to turn their attention to the stalled Doha Round.

Key is expected to seek support for Groser's candidacy from other political leaders present at APEC.

Long-serving WTO director-general Pascal Lamy is expected to step down next year after two terms in the high-profile role. The WTO top job will inevitably be strongly contested by a cadre of experienced trade ministers.

Groser has a lot on his plate over the next two weeks

The Trade Minister is expected to hold discussions on the proposed New Zealand-Russia free trade deal when he meets his Russian counterpart at the East Asia Summit Economic
Ministers meeting which takes place in Cambodia this week.

If the Groser bid succeeds, he will be the second New Zealander to serve as the WTO's director-general. Former Labour Prime Minister and Trade Minister Mike Moore held the role between 1999 to 2002.

Four New Zealand diplomats - including Groser - have also served as chair of the WTO Doha Round agriculture negotiations.

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