Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will be the next Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as of March 1.
WTO members made history on Monday when the General Council agreed by consensus to select Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria as the organization’s seventh Director-General.
When she takes office on March 1, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will become the first woman and the first African to be elected Director General.
Its mandate, renewable, will expire on August 31, 2025.
“This is a very important moment for the WTO. On behalf of the General Council, I extend our sincere congratulations to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her appointment as the next Director-General of the WTO and I formally welcome her to this meeting of the General Council, ”said the President of the General Council, David Walker from New Zealand, who along with co-facilitators, Dacio Castillo (Honduras) and Harald Aspelund (Iceland), led the nine-month selection process.
She said a key priority for her would be to work with members to quickly address the economic and health consequences brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It is an honor for me to have been selected by WTO members as WTO Director-General,” she said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
“A strong WTO is vital if we are to recover fully and quickly from the devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic (…) The organization faces many challenges, but by working together we can make the WTO stronger, more agile and better. adapted to today’s realities,” she added.
The General Council’s decision follows months of uncertainty that arose when the United States initially refused to join the consensus around the Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and gave its support to the Minister of Commerce, Yoo Myung-hee, of the Republic of Korea.
But following Yoo’s decision to withdraw his candidacy on February 5, the administration of the newly elected president of the United States, Joseph R. Biden Jr., withdrew the American objection and announced that Washington extends its “strong support” to the Okonjo-Iweala candidacy.