Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala breaks new ground to lead WTO

Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala breaks new ground to lead WTO

"Her term starts on the 1st of March 2021", the trade organisation posted on its verified page.

President Muhammadu Buhari says he has no doubt that Nigeria's former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will excel in her new position as Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.

Okonjo-Iweala takes over a beleaguered organization that is facing a slew of challenges that have hobbled the WTO in recent years, including how to best manage the increased friction between economic superpowers the United States and China.

Mohammad noted that Okonjo-Iweala's candidacy received support from every geographical region and all categories of members recognised in the WTO provisions. "I look forward to working with members to shape and implement the policy responses we need to get the global economy going again", Okonjo-Iweala said.

The post of the top executive has been vacant since August 31 previous year, when the former head of the organisation, Roberto Azevedo, left it before the end of his term. She withdrew her candidacy earlier this month. Her predecessor, Roberto Azevedo, stepped down August 31, a year before his term expired.

The 164-member organisation appoints its leaders through a consensus-finding process.

Okonjo-Iweala said ramping up global efforts to combat Covid-19 was also a priority."One of ... top priorities that I have, that I'm passionate about, is how can trade and the WTO play a stronger role in bringing solutions to the Covid-19 pandemic, both on the health side but also on the economic side", she told CNN.

" At the World Bank, you fronted several initiatives that supported low-income countries, including raising nearly 50 billion dollars from donors in an aid campaign for the International Development Association".

"As the Harvard-educated and renowned economist takes up another onerous task of service to the world and humanity, the President believes her track record of integrity, diligence, and passion for development will continue to yield positive results and rewards to mankind", the President stated.

The WTO also faced relentless attacks from Washington under Biden's predecessor Donald Trump.

European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen called it a "historic moment for the entire world", and pledged Europe's full backing for Okonjo-Iweala.

As a responsible, major developing country, China will act as a steadfast supporter of the multilateral trading system and actively participate in WTO reforms, the ministry said. It negotiates and administers rules for global trade and tries to resolve disputes among its 164 members. She served two tenures as Nigerian finance minister and spent 25 years as an economist at the World Bank, where she rose to its No. 2 position of managing director of operations.

"She is persistent and stubborn", said Kingsley Moghalu, former deputy governor of Nigeria's central bank who worked with her when she was the country's first female finance minister.

"Thank you, my sister Ngozi, for your tireless efforts to realize our shared vision of vaccines for all", said World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus upon her departure.

She has brushed off claims she lacks experience as a trade minister or negotiator.

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