Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s finest economist has been confirmed the first African and the first woman to head the WTO as Director General (DG) by the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Her appointment was confirmed on Monday as she assumes office on March 1, 2020
WTO is the intergovernmental organization that is concerned with the regulation of international trade between nations
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala makes history as the first woman and the first African to lead the WTO.
In a congratulatory message, 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.
Okonjo-Iweala prevailed over several other candidates in the months-long WTO leadership race, including South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung Hee, her main rival.
Okonjo-Iweala emerged victorious in the contest over Ms Yoo Myung-hee by a wide margin. She polled 104 votes from 164 member countries to defeat the South Korea’s trade minister at the final stage of the race.
The South Korea trade minister later stepped down paving the way for Okonjo-Iweala, whose today’s confirmation at a meeting of envoys from the 164 WTO member countries has been considered a mere formality.
The previous U.S. administration of President Donald Trump had tried to block Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment by opposing her.
Okonjo-Iweala is set to succeed the Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who left the WTO before the end of his term in August.
He has joined U.S. beverage giant Pepsico as an executive.
Responding to the confirmation of her appointment, Okonjo-Iweala said she work closely with members to recover the devastating effect of Covid-19.
She 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,” Dr Okonjo-Iweala said.