Nigeria’s Dr Okonjo-Iweala Makes History As First Woman And First African To Become WTO Boss

PUBLISHED: Tue, 16 Feb 2021 07:53:38 GMT
Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala poses at her home in Potomac, Maryland, near Washington DC, as she was confirmed as the first woman and first African leader of the beleaguered World Trade Organization, on February 15, 2021 (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

The General Council agreed by consensus to select Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria as the organisation’s seventh director-general.

CAPE TOWN, February 15 (ANA) – Nigeria’s Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala made history on Monday, becoming the first woman and first African selected to head up the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The General Council agreed by consensus to select Okonjo-Iweala as the organisation’s seventh director-general, according to a statement issued by the organisation.

WTO members took the decision to appoint Okonjo-Iweala at a special meeting of the General Council after a selection process that included eight candidates from around the world.

She is set to take office on March 1.

General Council chairperson David Walker said: “This is a very significant moment for the WTO. On behalf of the General Council, I extend our warmest congratulations to Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her appointment as the WTO’s next director-general and formally welcome her to this General Council meeting.”

According to a statement, Okonjo-Iweala said a key priority for her would be to work with members to quickly address the economic and health consequences brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am honoured to have been selected by WTO members as WTO director-general,” said Okonjo-Iweala.

Okonjo-Iweala said that a strong WTO was vital if the world was to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“I look forward to working with members to shape and implement the policy responses we need to get the global economy going again. Our organisation faces many challenges, but working together we can collectively make the WTO stronger, more agile and better adapted to the realities of today.”

Okonjo-Iweala’s chances of heading up the WTO were boosted by South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee’s withdrawal from the race early in February.

Yoo’s withdrawal came about when dozens of former US government officials urged President Joe Biden to endorse Okonjo-Iweala after the Trump administration blocked her selection in 2020.