- New DG Lays Out Plans For WTO At General Council
After months of geopolitics, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance and development economist has been confirmed as Director General (DG) of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Her appointment was confirmed in a statement by the WTO Monday, following the General Council Meeting of the global trade body held virtually.
The confirmation of her appointment marked an historic moment for the world trade body as she becomes the first African and the first woman to head the WTO since inception in 1995.
Addressing the WTO General Council virtually from Washington DC earlier, Okonjo-Iweala appreciated the widespread global support that led to her emergence and confirmation.
She also singled out President Muhammadu Buhari, ECOWAS and the African Union (AU) leaders for praise following their dogged push for her candidacy.
Okonjo-Iweala called on countries to collaborate by creating a nexus between public health and global trade to address the challenges of the ongoing pandemic.
She said the WTO under her watch would reform the trade dispute settlement system at the Geneva-based organization to address the multilateral concerns on trade gridlock rattling the body.
The New Diplomat who was the first to exclusively break the news of her emergence as the consensus candidate for WTO DG had reported that Okonjo-Iweala’s emergence would’ve been wrapped up in November, 2020 after securing majority support from 104 of the WTO 164 member-states. But the administration of former US president Donald Trump blocked the consensus to appoint Okonjo-Iweala.
Recall the US President Joe Biden strongly embraced her candidacy following the withdrawal of strong contender, South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee from the race.
Okonjo-Iweala, a development economist by training with degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, also had a 25-year career as a development economist at the World Bank, eventually becoming its number two.
Already congratulatory messages have been pouring in for her. President of the European Council (EC), Charles Michel said Okonjo-Iweala can count on the full support of the European Union (EU).
“My warmest wishes to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala @NOIweala on your appointment as Director General of @wto. You bring a wealth of experience and expertise at a time when the WTO needs reform. Count on full support of the EU,” Michel tweeted.