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New Chair for WTO Farm Talks


April 22, 2009
By Canadian Poultry

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April 22, 2009- Ambassador David Walker of New Zealand was appointed today as the new chairperson of the WTO agriculture negotiations,
following his predecessor Crawford Falconer’s return to Wellington.

April 22, 2009- Ambassador David Walker of New Zealand was appointed
today as the new chairperson of the WTO agriculture negotiations,
following his predecessor Crawford Falconer’s return to Wellington.

The
selection was confirmed at a formal meeting of the agriculture negotiations
on April 22nd. It is the result of General Council chairperson Mario Matus’s
consultations with WTO members. He informed them on April 8th that the
consultations “have shown a consensus” to appoint Dr Walker. Helping him in
the consultations were ambassadors John Gero of Canada, who chairs the
Dispute Settlement Body, and Muhamad Noor Yacob of Malaysia, a former
General Council chairperson, Ambassador Matus said. On March 18th he had
informed members that he was starting the consultations.

WTO chairs are formally elected by the bodies they chair. Ambassador Walker
is the third New Zealand ambassador to chair the agriculture negotiations,
after Tim Groser (2003-2005, now New Zealand trade minister) and Crawford
Falconer (2005-2009).

Ambassador Groser returned to New Zealand to enter politics and Ambassador
Falconer returned to become a deputy secretary at the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Trade.

The present terms for chairs of the negotiating groups run from one
ministerial conference to the next (usually a period of about two years,
sometimes longer), unlike the chairs of the regular WTO councils and
committees, whose terms are annual.

ABOUT DAVID WALKER

The new chairperson has a doctorate in
economics from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, where he also
taught. He has a 20-year career in trade and economics, almost entirely
in the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry in Wellington, and including a
brief period with Telecom New Zealand.

Before his appointment as ambassador in Geneva in January 2009, he was
principal economic adviser at the ministry, where he led
free-trade-agreement negotiations with China and other trading partners.

His postings include London and Washington. In an earlier posting in
Geneva (1991-1994) he represented New Zealand in Uruguay Round
negotiations on services, intellectual property and trade remedies, and
chaired the Anti-Dumping Committee of what was then the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

After Dr Walker’s term as New Zealand ambassador began in January, Mr
Falconer remained as ambassador to the WTO Doha Round agriculture
negotiations, allowing him to continue to chair the talks until his
return to Wellington in April.