Okonjo-Iweala speaks on appointment as director-general of WTO


Former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said she is “honoured” to have been named as the director-general of World Trade Organization.

Okonjo-Iweala was appointed on Monday, months after key ambassadors of the trade organization recommended her for the job. Her confirmation was initially stalled by the then Donald Trump administration in the United States’ support for South Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee.

But the administration of the new American president Joe Biden threw its weight behind Okonjo-Iweala after the South Korean minister pulled out of the race.

She said, “I am honoured to have been selected by WTO members as WTO Director-General,” said Dr. Okonjo-Iweala.

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.

“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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When she takes office on 1 March, Dr Okonjo-Iweala will become the first woman and the first African to be chosen as Director-General. Her term, renewable, will expire on 31 August 2025.