Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala appointed WTO Director-GeneralFebruary 15, 2021
“The decision was taken by consensus at a special meeting today of the organization’s General Council,” said an official.
Okonjo-Iweala is the former Finance Minister of Nigeria and World Bank economist.
The US, under the Donald Trump-administration, had blocked Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment in October despite strong endorsement from almost all WTO members including India.
However, the Joe Biden administration, extended the US’ support to Okonjo-Iweala earlier this month following which South Korea’s candidate-Yoo Myung-hee- withdrew from the race.
Okonjo-Iweala said a key priority for her would be to work with members to quickly address the economic and health consequences brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“A strong WTO is vital if we are to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said, adding that the WTO faces many challenges.
She takes charge at a time when developed countries have challenged the development agenda of the WTO such as special and differential treatment provisions and opposed an India-South Africa joint proposal for a temporary waiver of TRIPS obligations to ensure uninterrupted flow of vaccines to the developing and least developed countries.
The process for selecting a new Director-General was triggered on May 15 when former Director-General Roberto Azevêdo announced to step down from his post one year before the expiry of his mandate. He subsequently left office on August 31, 2020.