NZ may fill top world trade post

PHILIP BURDON, the New Zealand Trade Minister, has been sounded out informally over his willingness to head the World Trade Organisation, the successor to Gatt which will oversee the new global trade agreement.

A New Zealand candidacy would represent the latest attempt to break European dominance of international institutions. A Canadian politician, Donald Johnston, is competing with Lord Lawson for the top job at the Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development.

Lord Lawson's name has also cropped up as a potential successor to Peter Sutherland, who will leave as director-general of Gatt later this year. Others mentioned have included the outgoing Mexican President, Carlos Salinas; Sir Leon Brittan, the EU Vice-President, and Rubens Recerupo, a former Brazilian foreign minister.

However, the main countries are unlikely to accept a politician from a developing country as new head of the WTO, and Mr Burdon is favoured by the US because he comes from a small Asia-Pacific country. Washington, which is also backing Mr Johnston for the OECD post, is pressing for more equal representation of the three trading blocs - Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific - in the international institutions.

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