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Supachai's Asian history lessons

In a wide-ranging interview, Supachai Panitchpakdi, Thailand's deputy prime minister and director-general-elect of the WTO, talks about the successes and failures of government strategy in bringing Thailand out of the 1997-98 Asian crisis and assesses the prospects for a successful continuation of the work of the WTO


His majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, demonstrated that he keeps a close finger on his country's political pulse - perhaps a more effective one than his ministers - when he delivered his birthday message in December, just a month before general elections. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Thailand's outgoing deputy prime minister and economic supremo, recalls: "His Majesty talked of the WTO [World Trade Organization] and the need for more communication with the public, so that they can understand how free trade can serve the interests of the people and how they can avoid being exploited by other countries.

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