Ex-Nigerian Minister to Be the First Woman Director General of WTO

She will receive unanimous backing from the US Administration now, which wasn't possible a few months ago when she was rejected over her main competitor from South Korea.

WTO
Credits: Reuters

Former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is set to receive unanimous backing on Monday to become the first woman and first African director-general of the World Trade Organization, Reuters has reported.

The Trump administration had rejected her for the position three months ago, while the Biden Administration is set to endorse her. An important part of her work is being seen as negotiating the ongoing trade tensions between US-China, and to balance and handle the US-EU-China triangle’s demands.

The ex-minister has also worked 25 years for the World Bank. Okonjo-Iweala ran against seven other candidates by espousing a belief in “trade’s ability to lift people out of poverty”. Iweala had been a student of development economics at Harvard University, before which she had experienced the Civil War in Nigeria. She returned to the country in 2003 to serve as finance minister.

Speaking to Reuters, former WTO Chief Pascal Lamy has said, “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”.

Trade scenario in the present world appears pretty bleak, with two largest national economies – US and China – fighting at loggerheads since 2017 with each other after the long held consensus which US and China had both accepted. The Western, ‘developed’ countries now increasingly demand a change of terms for the developing countries – especially China – in order to reflect their new ‘economic situation’. This will be high on the ‘to-do list’ of the incoming Director-General of WTO.

Okonjo-Iweala, who is a special envoy for the World Health Organization on COVID-19 and, until recently chair of the board of global vaccine alliance GAVI, told Reuters that trade’s contribution to public health would be a priority.

She will receive unanimous backing from the US Administration now, which wasn’t possible a few months ago when she was rejected over her main competitor from South Korea.

Also Read: “Industrial Development is Not Only About Attracting Private Investment”: Pinarayi Vijayan

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