Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala officially appointed as Director-General of World Trade Organization

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Nigeria’s former minister of finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has officially been appointed as the seventh Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.

This decision by the general council follows months of uncertainty which arose when the United States initially refused to join the consensus around Dr Okonjo-Iweala and threw its support behind Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee of the Republic of Korea. But following Ms Yoo’s decision on 5 February to withdraw her candidacy, the administration of newly elected US President Joseph R. Biden Jr. dropped the US objection and announced instead that Washington extends its “strong support” to the candidacy of Dr Okonjo-Iweala.

According to an official statement made by World trade organization via social media and website. On Twitter it tweeted “History is made: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala chosen as Director-General”

The official statement by WTO:

“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,” said General Council Chair David Walker of New Zealand who, together with co-facilitators Amb. Dacio Castillo (Honduras) and Amb. Harald Aspelund (Iceland) led the nine-month DG selection process.

“Dr Ngozi, on behalf of all members I wish to sincerely thank you for your graciousness in these exceptional months, and for your patience. We look forward to collaborating closely with you, Dr Ngozi, and I am certain that all members will work with you constructively during your tenure as Director-General to shape the future of this organization,” he added.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala born in Ogwashi Ukwu, Delta State, Nigeria graduated from Harvard University in 1976 and then earned a PhD from MIT. She was then appointed the first woman to take on the Nigerian finance ministry and the ministry of foreign affairs. She was also the first female to run for the World Bank presidency, where she spent 25 years.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala is the first woman and the first African to be chosen as Director-General. Her term starts from 1st of March and will expire on 31 August 2025 which is renewable.

In an official statement, 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 Dr Okonjo-Iweala. “A strong WTO is vital if we are to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. I look forward to working with members to shape and implement the policy responses we need to get the global economy going again. Our organization faces a great many challenges but working together we can collectively make the WTO stronger, more agile and better adapted to the realities of today.”

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