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New WTO chief to get tough on multinationals

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 WTO chief targets multinationals
>
>Nick Mathiason
>Sunday June 16, 2002
>The Observer
>
>The incoming leader of the world's most powerful trade body wants
>to introduce tough rules to clamp down on any lobbying by
>multinational companies that is aimed at influencing the world's
>trading system.
>
>The proposal from the World Trade Organisation's director-general
>designate, Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, has shocked international
>governments and multinational firms, which have mounted a
>campaign against the plans.
>
>In London last week Panitchpakdi said he wanted a new code of
>conduct for multinational firms, 'which is something that I'm
>not  getting support for from countries around the world,
>particularly some advanced countries.' He said critics believed
>'I'll be trying to  intervene too much into the corporate
>sector's movements'.
>
>The WTO's new leader be lieves that intellectual property laws,
>which have slowed access to cheap drugs for developing countries,
>is  just one example of powerful business interests overriding
>those of poor countries.
>
>Panitchpakdi's proposals, still at an early stage, will infuriate
>international businessmen, though they should take comfort in
>the  appointment of Stuart Harbinson as the WTO leader's chief of
>staff. Harbinson, regarded as a conservative, played a leading
>part in  launching a new world trade round at the talks in Doha,
>Qatar, last year.
>
>Panitchpakdi called on the West to offer more concessions to
>developing countries.
>
>Kevin Watkins, the senior policy adviser at Oxfam, said: 'Any
>change from the regime of [current WTO chief] Mike Moore, who
>ran  the WTO as if it was a lobby group for big business, is
>welcomed.'

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