World Trade Organisation seeks new home
May 9, 2007 - 11:44:47 PM

Geneva, May 9 - The head of the World Trade Organisation - confirmed Wednesday that the group was looking for bigger headquarters but refused to comment on rumours that this could be outside Geneva or even Switzerland.

WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said the organisation had outgrown its premises at the William Rappard Centre in Geneva and the executive had given him the go-ahead to negotiate with the Swiss government that owns the site.

'At the WTO, everyone works with everyone. There is nothing to be gained in separating people who want to work together. The current temporary arrangement is unsatisfactory,' said Lamy.

Up to 100 staff are presently housed in an annexe at the William Rappard Centre overlooking Lake Geneva close to the European headquarters of the UN.

'Above all we need to be under the same roof,' added Lamy who refused to be drawn on claims that the WTO had been approached by Hong Kong and Singapore with a view to moving the operation there. He said he would not fall into a trap of negotiating in public.

The building, on a site originally offered by the Swiss to the League of Nations after the First World War, has seen international organisations come and go.

It was purpose built for the International Labour Organisation in 1926, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade - moved there in 1975 alongside the UN agency for refugees, UNHCR, which subsequently switched to brand new premises a few years ago.

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