New Zealand trade minister claims backing of Samoa for WTO leadership bid

2013-02-11 06:17:40 GMT2013-02-11 14:17:40(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

WELLINGTON, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- The tiny Pacific island nation of Samoa is to support New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser's candidature for the top job at the World Trade Organization (WTO), Groser announced Monday.

On the first day of a five-day tour of Pacific island nations to garner backing for his bid to become WTO director-general, Groser held talks Monday with Samoan Deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo.

Lauofo told Groser that Samoa had looked carefully at the merits of each of the nine WTO director-general candidates and wanted to support a candidate who had the necessary combination of political and technical skills as well as one who understood the specific needs of the Pacific Islands region, said a statement from Groser's office.

"Mr Groser has demonstrated his understanding of the needs of developing countries in the multilateral trading system and our discussions today have underlined his strong commitment to engage on issues of interest to the Pacific islands region," Lauofo said in the statement.

The pair had discussed how the WTO could better support the interests of Pacific Island countries in the WTO, and Lauofo had noted Samoa's desire for additional support in its efforts post accession to implement its WTO commitments.

Groser said that as director-general, he would look at concrete and practical ways that the WTO mechanisms could be better oriented to developing countries' needs and how the organization could work more closely with other international institutions to find practical ways to provide technical assistance and to build capacity for those members who needed it most.

Groser said that, if elected, he would be committed to maintaining New Zealand's strong links with the Pacific as well as the special relationship between New Zealand and Samoa underpinned by the Treaty of Friendship.

Groser will also visit Tonga, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to discuss his candidature.

He is one of nine candidates seeking to succeed WTO director- general Pascal Lamy, whose term expires on Aug. 31.

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