WTO Appoints Okonjo-Iweala Director-General, Resumes March 1

February 15, 2021

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A former Minister of Finance in Nigeria, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has been appointed as the new Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

With her appointment, she becomes the first woman and African to occupy the position since the establishment of the global trade body.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, a former DG of the World Bank, is expected to resume office on March 1, 2021, and will be expected to leave on August 31, 2025, though her term is renewable.

The Nigerian was chosen for the job at a special general meeting of the group.

In a statement, the Chairman of the General Council, Mr David Walker of New Zealand, described the appointment as “a very significant moment for the WTO.”

Mr Walker led the nine-month DG selection process alongside co-facilitators, Dacio Castillo (Honduras) and Harald Aspelund (Iceland).

“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,” Mr Walker said in the statement.

In her response, the new DG was quoted in a WTO statement to have accepted the challenge, disclosing that her major focus 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.

“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 organisation 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 said.

Modupe Gbadeyanka

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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