The Financial Express

WTO appoints Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as next director general

| Updated: February 15, 2021 21:39:54

-Reuters file photo -Reuters file photo

All members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have formally agreed to appoint Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next director general of the body.

The top decision-making body, the General Council, of WTO agreed on her appointment at a closed-door meeting which had just one agenda item, on Monday, reports Reuters citing two sources attended the meeting.

The WTO subsequently confirmed the choice.

The former finance minister of Nigeria is the first woman and the first African citizen to lead  the Switzerland-based institution.

A 25-year veteran of the World Bank, where she oversaw an $81 billion portfolio, Okonjo-Iweala ran against seven other candidates by espousing a belief in trade's ability to lift people out of poverty.

She studied development economics at Harvard after experiencing civil war in Nigeria as a teenager. She returned to the country in 2003 to serve as finance minister and backers point to her hard-nose negotiating skills that helped seal a deal to cancel billions of dollars of Nigerian debt with the Paris Club of creditor nations in 2005.

"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." Key to her success will be her ability to operate in the centre of a "US-EU-China triangle", he said.

The endorsement of the Biden administration cleared the last obstacle to her appointment.

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