WTO appoints Okonjo-Iweala as DG

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was appointed Monday as the first female and first African head of the beleaguered World Trade Organization, saying a stronger WTO would be vital for the global coronavirus recovery.

The WTO called a virtual special general council meeting at which member states officially selected the former Nigerian finance minister and World Bank veteran as the global trade body’s new director-general.

She will take up her post on March 1 and her term, which is renewable, will run until August 31, 2025. The near-paralysed institution desperately needs a kick-start — something Okonjo-Iweala immediately addressed after being confirmed in the job.

“A strong WTO is vital if we are to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic,” the 66-year-old economist said in a statement. “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.”

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