Finally, Okonjo-Iweala Makes History As WTO Director-General

Ngozi Okonjo Iweala

Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has finally written her name in the book of history as she has been confirmed as the next Director-General of the World Trade Organisation at a special general meeting.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is the first woman and the first African to lead the WTO.

“WTO members have just agreed to appoint Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next director-general,” the global trade body said in a statement, adding that the former Nigerian finance minister and World Bank veteran will take up her post on March 1.

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Her term, renewable, will expire on 31 August 2025. This is a very significant moment for the WTO,” 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.

“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.”

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Quoted in a WTO statement, 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,” she said. “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.

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