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 banned her nomination due to her preference for 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 organisation’s main disputes committee effectively crippled the body.
Okonjo-Iweala, 66, was minister of finance and foreign affairs in her native 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 first and Africa with 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 tweets. “She has 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.”
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 traded as her successor, but she announced that it was not available.
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