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Sun, Dec 18, 2005 - Page 12 News List

Catch up with the WTO chief on his blog

Ever wondered what it's like to be one of the most important men in the capitalist world? Get it from the horse's mouth


He jogs. Eats bananas and bread for lunch. Marvels at Hong Kong's busy harbor. Gets an upset stomach before his big speech. And writes about it all in his blog.

He's Pascal Lamy, the chief of the WTO, the group that's struggling to hammer out new rules for global commerce at a meeting in Hong Kong. The talks aren't going well, with the 149 members squabbling over prickly issues like farming subsidies.

Lamy's blog on the WTO's Web site provides a behind-the-scenes look at his life at the conference, which began on Tuesday and ends today.

The former French finance minister says he eats "B+B for lunch," lingo he decodes by adding, "I mean bread and bananas, of course."

Before his big opening ceremony speech, Lamy said he got up early for a quick jog. He acknowledged feeling nervous before addressing the huge audience, but he said he calmed himself by comparing the event to a foot race.

"I've got butterflies in my stomach, like a runner waiting for the starting gun. I'm told there are about 11,000 men and women gathering for the opening ceremony, and I remind myself that is still less than for the New York marathon," he writes.

Lamy said his day at the negotiations ends at 3am and he's back at work at 6am the next day.

He also mused about the different demands of his job.

"Sometimes I feel like a shepherd, sometimes like a nurse, or a mid-wife, trying to help members in a difficult delivery," he said.

He said checked out how the media covered him when he used a magic wand as a prop in his opening ceremony speech.

"I found a moment to catch a glimpse of the media coverage from yesterday and saw they liked the magic wand I used at the opening ceremony," he said. "It was in fact given to me in Geneva by one of my secretaries -- it's a plastic toy, and it certainly doesn't work!"

Lamy also said he was amazed by the modern conference venue on the banks of Victoria Harbor.

"The setting for this conference is closer to science fiction," he said. "Delegates seem to glide through the air from one level to another in this gigantic capsule of glass and steel, gazing out at a harbor filled with every conceivable form of vessel cargos, tankers, cruisers, fishing boats."

On the Net: Pascal Lamy's blog www.wto.org

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