NationNews Barbados: Nigerian to head WTO

Remigio Civitarese
Febbraio 16, 2021

The World Trade Organization officially named US -trained Nigerian economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its seventh director-general on Monday.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala will be the first female and first African Director General of the organisation.

"China hopes that the WTO will restore its normal functions as soon as possible after Dr Okonjo-Iweala assumes office and the new director-general can promote the WTO in playing a greater role in anti-pandemic cooperation and economic recovery", the ministry said in a statement.

In the same speech, she described the challenges facing the body as "numerous and tricky but not insurmountable".

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A development economist by training with degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, Okonjo-Iweala has also had a 25-year career as a development economist at the World Bank, eventually becoming its number two. An economist, she previously served as Nigeria's finance minister and as managing director of the World Bank.

"She brings stature, she brings experience, a network and a temperament of trying to get things done, which is quite a welcome lot in my view", former WTO chief Pascal Lamy told Reuters. "I think she's a good choice".

"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.

The endorsement of the Biden administration cleared the last obstacle to her appointment. Her term is set to go through August 2025.

Despite her time spent in the US and indeed her dual U.S.

The minority leader said that the election was clearly in recognition of Okonjo-Iweala's competence.Elumelu said that the caucus commended the understanding and spirit of sportsmanship exhibited by the South Korean Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee, in withdrawing from the race.He said it was another loud testament to Okonjo-Iweala's suitability for the task ahead.

She has rejected this, saying that she has plenty of experience of trade plus other expertise.

"The qualities I have are even better", she said.

Raised by academics, the mother-of-four earned a reputation for hard work and modesty amid the pomp of Nigeria's governing class, acquaintances say.

The two women are the last remaining candidates and the eventual victor would set a record as being the first female WTO Director-General.

She also expressed confidence that her priorities were aligned with Washington's.

Her appointment by the required consensus of the 164 WTO members was possible only after the USA made a decision to back her, as the previous Donald Trump Administration had blocked her name to support the South Korean candidate Yoo Myung-hee, who finally withdrew her candidacy. Her arrival comes at a time when the organization looks for solutions to the coronavirus pandemic and trade issues between the United States and China.

Most recently Okonjo-Iweala chaired the board of Gavi, the vaccine alliance.

"What it (the WTO) needs is someone who has the capability to drive reform, who knows trade and who does not want to see business as usual".

"I feel I can solve the problems".

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