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Groser confirms WTO bid

Tuesday 4 Sep 2012 9:20 a.m.

Tim Groser

Tim Groser

Trade Minister Tim Groser has confirmed he will bid for the top job at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Mr Groser is in Asia to attend the Apec ministerial meeting in Vladivostok this week after talks with trade ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) in Cambodia.

"All I want to do is to make sure that there are some names out there that give the membership a choice," he told NZ Newswire in Bangkok.

"I'm looking at it positively. Nobody would believe me if I didn't say that in terms of my background," said Mr Groser, a former chief negotiator for New Zealand during the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade talks.

Prime Minister John Key has said Mr Groser would have the Government's full support for a bid to become director-general of the WTO, headquartered in Geneva, when the post becomes vacant next year.

"I've spent my lifetime on this dossier and I know how Geneva works. So basically, the rule is it's got to be a trade minister or ex-trade minister to be a candidate," he said.

In an address to the Foreign Correspondents Club in Bangkok on Monday, he described the WTO system as the glue that keeps regional trade agreements moving forward.

The Doha round of talks that began in 2001 to liberalise global trade has stalled over issues of protectionism and subsidies on agricultural production.

Mr Groser said it was inconceivable that the WTO could be pushed to one side forever.

"(The WTO) at the end of the day is probably the most advanced form of international economic law that exists and we've got to come back at some point and fix it," he said.

Former Labour prime minister Mike Moore headed the WTO from 1999 to 2002.

Mr Groser declined to comment on allegations about confidential documents on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's restructuring being leaked to the Labour Party.

Mr Key has denied the leak came from the Beehive.

But it was reported last week that investigation head Paula Rebstock has spoken to Mr Groser about his "conversations with top civil servants", because he allegedly expressed reservations about the restructuring.

"We've got a commission of inquiry going on into that and where that is going I've got no idea. So we'll wait and see what the commission says," he said.

NZN

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