Born on the 30th of May, 1946 in Bangkok, Supachai Panitchpakdi completed a Master’s Degree in Econometrics, Development Planning. Continuing his education, Supachai received a PhD in Economic Planning and Development, from the Netherlands School of Economics in Rotterdam. In 1973, Supachai finished a dissertation on Human Resource Planning and Development with the guidance of Professor Jan Tinbergen, who is the original Nobel laureate in economics. During that same year, Supachai attended the University of Cambridge, visiting as a fellow to complete research on development models.
He is a prominent Thai politician, serving as Secretary-General of the UN Conference from September 2005 to August 2013, applying his expertise to trade and development. Leaning upon his experience as Director-General of the World Trade Organisation from September 2002 to 2005, he was an influential figure who shaped the landscape of trading as we know it.
As an introduction to the world of politics, Supachai was recognised as Thailand’s Deputy Minister of Finance in 1986, however, he moved on when parliament was disestablished two years later. After this, he left politics and became the Thai Military Bank’s president, before returning in 1992 when he was first appointed Senator and later Deputy Prime Minister. During this role, which lasted until 1995, Supachai managed trading and economics. Thanks to his vasts experience, Supachai was an integral figure in the Asian financial crisis in 1997, where he returned to his previous role as Deputy Prime Minister and was also appointed as Minister of Commerce.
During the next decade, proceeding his period at the WTO, Supachai became the Secretary-General of the UN Conference on trade and development in 2005. After succeeding in the role, Supachai was reappointed for a second term in 2009. With an eye for reforming the organisation, Supachai was responsible for creating a Panel of Eminent Persons to guarantee the reform of UNCTAD.
Outside of politics, Supachai published countless books sharing his expertise with the world, 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). In 2012, Supachai was recognised for his contribution to politics with the Grand Prize in the Asia Cosmopolitan Awards. Awarded by ASEAN, it is a testament to those making the “most distinguished achievements in economic, social science or cultural fields“.
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