Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has become the first black African and woman to emerge as the Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The former managing director of the World Bank becomes the seventh director-general of the organization since its inception.
Okonjo-Iweala was appointed at a special meeting of the WTO General Council, following a selection process that included eight candidates from around the world.
The organization confirmed her appointment on its Twitter handle on Monday, February 15. Her term starts on the 1st of March 2021 and will expire on 31 August 2025.
Okonjo-Iweala who reacted to the decision of the WTO General Council said;
“I am honoured to have been selected by WTO members as WTO Director-General.
“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.”
The General Council decision follows months of uncertainty that 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.
However, following Ms Yoo’s decision on 5 February to step down from the race, the administration of newly elected US President Joseph R. Biden Jr. dropped the US objection and announced that Washington extends its “strong support” to the candidacy of Dr Okonjo-Iweala.