Next WTO head will not be European

The next head of the World Trade Organization will certainly come from somewhere other than Europe, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said .

Pascal Lamy, a French national who has served two four-year terms as WTO director general, is to step down on August 31, and when his successor is chosen, "obviously this time, it will not be someone from Europe," De Gucht told a press conference after meeting with Lamy in Geneva.

The EU commissioner said the next WTO head would have to be "a highly qualified man or woman fully aware of the global task of director general."

Candidates for the post have until December 31 to submit applications, but none have been sent so far.

When Lamy was first chosen in 2005, three other candidates from Brazil, Mauritius and Uruguay also threw their hats in the ring, but the Frenchman was unopposed to succeed himself in 2009.

The WTO, with 157 members and based in Geneva, is the successor of the post-war General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and is the forum for the phased opening up of trade and the settlement of disputes when a signatory considers that another signatory has broken WTO trade rules.