February 16, 2021 | Investopaper
Former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed head of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Okonjo is the first African to reach the post in WTO history. The newly appointed 66-year-old economist Okonjo had previously held important positions at the World Bank. Member states voted virtually to appoint her as WTO Director-General.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will take office on March 1, and her term will run until August 31, 2025. Headquartered in Geneva, the WTO has been without leadership since August last year. A new WTO chief could not be appointed after then-executive director Roberto Azevedo resigned after a year in office.
The WTO, which underwent a major crisis during the administration of US President Donald Trump, has a major responsibility to help countries recover from the global economic crisis caused by the coronavirus.
The Trump administration wanted to appoint South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee. But when it became clear that Biden would be the new president of the United States, Myung-hee removed her name from the list. Biden indicated he would approve of Okonjo’s name.
Okonzo is the seventh director-general since the WTO was established in 1995. The United States, the European Union and Africa have expressed support for the appointment of Nigerian Okonjo as director general.