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Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Elected WTO Director-General

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala becomes the first African woman Director-general at World Trade Organization (WTO)

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been elected as the Director-general at World Trade Organization (WTO), making history as the first woman and an African for that matter to head the organization.

“Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from Nigeria is appointed as the next WTO Director-General. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala makes history as the first woman and the first African to lead the WTO. Her term starts on the 1st of March 2021,” WTO announced.

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.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala took to Twitter to express her joy;

It is done! Thank you @WTO members for finalizing my election today and making history. In the 73 years of GATT and WTO, honored to be First Woman and First African to lead. But now the real work begins. Ready to tackle the challenges of WTO. Forget Business as usual! “ She said in a tweet.

Dr. 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 honored 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.”

Reuters had cited Kenya’s Amina Mohammed and  Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as “the top favourites” in the race to the current replace the Director-General, Brazil’s Roberto Azevedo.

The other four candidates who were competing for the seat are;  Yoo Myung-hee from South Korea; Jesus Seade Kuri from Mexico; Egypt’s Hamid Mamdouh; and Tudor Ulianovschi from Moldova.

The World Trade Organisation has never been led by an African and a woman, Ngozi’s election is therefore historic.

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