Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Becomes WTO's New Head

Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Becomes WTO's New Head
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will take up her post on March 1. (Photo: AFP)

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was confirmed as Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Monday, becoming the first woman and the first African to lead the global trade organization.

WTO General Council agreed by consensus to select Okonjo-Iweala, an economist and former finance minister of Nigeria, as the organization’s seventh Director-General. She will take up her post on March 1, initially for a term that runs until August 2025, according to the WTO press release issued on Monday.

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.

"I am honoured to have been selected by WTO members as WTO Director-General," said Dr Okonjo-Iweala. "A strong WTO is vital if we are to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. I look forward to working with members to shape and implement the policy responses we need to get the global economy going again. Our organization faces a great many challenges but working together we can collectively make the WTO stronger, more agile and better adapted to the realities of today."

The WTO was established in 1995 with the aim of promoting open trade for the benefit of all. It negotiates and administers rules for international trade and tries to resolve disputes among its 164 members.