Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed as the new chairperson of the World Trade Organization (WTO). She is the first woman to hold this high position since the founding of the World Trade Organization in 1995.
All 164 member states agreed to nominate in a digital meeting. Most recently, the last major hurdle appeared to have been overcome, when the United States officially announced its support for Africa.
Under former President Donald Trump, the United States continues to pose problems in the search for a new head of the international court in trade disputes. While Okonjo-Iweala enjoyed widespread support from members of the World Trade Organization, the White House blocked her candidacy, favoring the other remaining candidate, South Korean Yu Myung-hee.
Under Trump, the United States has become less anxious about the World Trade Organization in recent years. The US government’s refusal to appoint new members to the organization’s main litigation committee has effectively crippled the body.
Okonjo-Iweala, 66, was previously Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs of her country, Nigeria. She has also worked as a development economist and World Bank executive.
The Vice President of the European Commission, Valdes Dombrowskis, in charge of commercial affairs, congratulated the newly appointed Director General on Twitter. “The European Union honors your historic achievement as the first African woman to hold this position. We look forward to working closely with you to reform and adapt the World Trade Organization to today’s world.”
“Congratulations to my friend Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,” Christine Lagarde of the European Central Bank (ECB) also tweeted. “I have known Ngozi for many years. With her strong will and determination, she will work tirelessly to promote free trade that will benefit people around the world.”
Aftreden Roberto Azevedo
The top position in the World Trade Organization was unexpectedly released in August with the resignation of Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, a year before his term expired. Initially, Dutch Minister Sigrid Kaag (Foreign Trade) was also traded as her successor, but she declared it was unavailable.
Cag is making himself heard now. She congratulates the Nigerian via Twitter and mentions that there is only Okonjo-Iweala, who is in a better position to get WTO members back together and initiate needed reforms in the organization.
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