History was made as Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala receives unanimous backing this morning to become the first woman and first African director-general of the World Trade Organization.
At its Special Meeting in Geneva today, 15 February, 2021, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 164 members and 24 observer governments elected the Nigerian candidate by consensus as its first woman and African Director-General.
Iweala, 66, a former Nigerian finance minister and ex-World Bank Managing Director scaled the political hurdle erected by the now defeated Donald Trump American presidency.
Set up in 1994 under the Marrakesh (Morocco) Agreement to replace the 1948 General Agreement on Trade and Tariff (GATT), the WTO, based in Geneva, Switzerland, is the largest international trade bloc.
Dr Iweala was formally introduced at the meeting.
The race for the WTO’s top position was frozen last November after the Nigerian candidate had secured more than 70% of the required votes from across the continents.
However, the U.S. under President Trump, which had also threatened to withdraw from WTO and other international organizations, maintained its unsustainable support for the South Korean candidate, who had to withdraw her bid on February 5, paving the way for Iweala’s unassailable victory.
The change of leadership in the American White House ended the obstacle with recently elected President Joe Biden pledging his administration’s support for the Nigerian candidate, and the return of the U.S. to international engagements.
Her term starts on the 1st of March 2021.