Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi began his four-year term as Secretary-General of UNCTAD on 1 September 2005, following his appointment by the UN General Assembly. He was appointed for a second term in September 2009, and stepped down from his post in August of 2013. Dr. Supachai previously served as Director-General of the World Trade Organization (September 2002 to August 2005) and as Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister (November 1992 to May 1995) and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce (November 1992 to February 2001).
Dr. Supachai received his Master's Degree in Econometrics, Development Planning and his Ph.D. in Economic Planning and Development at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, completing his doctoral dissertation on Human Resource Planning and Development under the supervision of Prof. Jan Tinbergen, the first Nobel laureate in economics.
He has published numerous books, including Educational Growth in Developing Countries (1974), Globalization and Trade in the New Millennium (2001) and China and the WTO: Changing China, Changing World Trade (2002, co-authored with Mark Clifford).
Dr. Supachai began his professional career at the Bank of Thailand in 1974, and in 1986 was elected a member of the Thai Parliament and appointed Deputy Minister of Finance. In 1988, he became Director and Advisor, and subsequently President, of the Thai Military Bank. In 1992, Dr. Supachai was appointed Senator, and that same year he became Deputy Prime Minister, entrusted with oversight of the country's economic and trade policy-making. In this role, he was actively involved in international trade policy and represented Thailand at the signing ceremony in Marrakech of the Uruguay Round Agreement in 1994. He was also active in shaping regional agreements, including Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM).
Dr Panitchpakdi carefully explains in his seminars the importance of international cooperation through sub-regional, regional and global frameworks. He shows audiences how to successfully conduct international trade negotiations and how to develop new markets. A balanced and informative speaker, Dr Panitchpakdi's presentations are filled with hard facts and real life examples presented in a clear and precise way.