Contenders vie to lead World Trade Organisation

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The Independent Online

The race to succeed Pascal Lamy as director general of the World Trade Organisation hots up this week as nine contenders make opening pitches to its 157 international members.

The candidates, who include academics, politicians and diplomats from Indonesia, Jordan and Brazil, will be looking to impress members by outlining the challenges to the 18-year-old body dedicated to opening up the world to free trade.

Mr Lamy has held the top job for two terms, totalling eight years. His successor must be named by May.

The British Government will be hopeful that Mr Lamy's replacement will be more upbeat on the UK's future trading relationship with Europe.

Last week, the 65-year-old Frenchman was guarded about David Cameron's decision to call a referendum over EU membership. "Whether a change in the relationship between the UK and Europe would change the trade relationship remains to be seen," he said.

This is the most crowded field ever assembled to take over the WTO job and, for the first time, includes three women.

Ladbrokes named Tim Groser and Anabel Gonzalez (pictured), the trade ministers of New Zealand and Costa Rica, as joint favourites at 3-1.

Mr Groser is thought to be favoured among developed nations, but countries like India are believed to be pushing for someone from an emerging economy as the balance of global financial power shifts.