Finally, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala appointed WTO Director General

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former Minister of Finance and coordinating minister of the Economy, has been finally appointed as Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Okonjo-Iweala, who makes history as the first female and first African DG of the trade organization, will assume her first 4-year term on 1 March 2021.

According to General Council Chair David Walker of New Zealand:

“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 added.

Responding to her appointment, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala 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.”

The administration of former US President Donald Trump had objected the earlier consensus appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala but following Ms Yoo’s decision on 5 February to withdraw her candidacy, the administration of newly elected US President Joseph R. Biden Jr. dropped the US objection and announced instead that Washington extends its “strong support” to the candidacy of Dr Okonjo-Iweala.

Recall that the process for selecting a new Director-General was triggered on 14 May 2020 when former Director-General Mr Roberto Azevêdo informed WTO members he would be stepping down from his post one year before expiration of his mandate. He subsequently left office on 31 August.

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