Supachai  Panitchpakdi

Supachai Panitchpakdi

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 mobilise funds.

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 Minister (1992-1995).

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.