Okonjo-Iweala Makes History As First Woman, African To Head 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.”

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the WTO director-general / Photo credit: WTO
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the WTO director-general / Photo credit: WTO

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigerian Former minister of finance, made history today as members of the World Trade Organisation by consensus selected her as the organization’s seventh Director-General.

Okonjo-Iweala, who will take office on March 1, will become the first woman and the first African to be chosen as Director-General.

General Council Chair David Walker of New Zealand who, together with co-facilitators Ambassador Dacio Castillo (Honduras) and Ambassador Harald Aspelund (Iceland) led the nine-month DG selection process congratulated the Nigerian economist for the feat.

“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.

“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 said.

According to a report on the WTO website on Monday, 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 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,” she was quoted to have said.

Her term as the WTO director-general, which is renewable, will expire in August 31 August 2025.

Written by The Interview Editors

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