Secretary General of UNCTAD
Date of Birth: 30/05/1946
Place of Birth: Bangkok
An experienced negotiator at the head of the United Nations Conference
on Trade and Development, Supachai Panitchpakdi unveiled
the agency's annual global survey on 2 September 2008 at Britain's
London School of Economics.
Addressing the effects of rising commodity prices, Supachai called
for increased spending on capacity building in African countries.
'In the last decade, there was an increase in the proportion [of
aid] that goes to social infrastructure, which is needed, but
it should be supplementary to the major investment into the economic
infrastructure,' he said. He also suggested that developing countries'
central banks fortify local bond markets to help private enterprises
Born in Bangkok, Thailand, in 1946, Supachai earned both
a Master's and PhD from the Netherlands School of Economics
(now Erasmus University) in Rotterdam. In 1973, he completed his
dissertation under economist and Nobel laureate Jan Tinbergen.
Supachai has held key positions in the government and financial
institutions of Thailand: Deputy Minister of Finance (1986-88);
Director of the Thai Military Bank (1988-1992); and Deputy Prime
A battle for the top seat at the World Trade Organisation between
Supachai and New Zealand's Mike Moore left the WTO
without a Director General for almost three months in 1999. At
last, a compromise split the seat between the two. When he took
over in 2002, Supachai became known as an advocate of free trade
and an opponent of rich nations' farm subsidies. He took his UNCTAD
job in September 2005, and his term ends in 2009.