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Okonjo-Iweala named first female and African WTO boss

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The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Monday announced officially the appointment of former Nigeria’s finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its new director-general.

Ngozi will take over the role effective March 1, becoming the first woman and also African to lead the institution.

Her appointment was made shortly after  WTO held a special general council meeting on Monday.

In October 2020, Okonjo-Iweala secured 104 out of 164 votes to head the World Trade Organization.

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She was the only African left in the race at the time and beat South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee for the top role.

Member countries in the European Union and ECOWAS all endorsed her candidacy but the USA under former president Trump opposed her candidacy.

That forced the General Counsel to postpone the announcement of the new Director-General.

South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee withdrew her candidacy this year following consultations with the US who backed her as well as other countries.

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The USA under President Joe Biden subsequently endorsed Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy paving way for the formal announcement.

Okonjo-Iweala should succeed Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who unexpectedly left the WTO at the end of August 2020, a year early than expected.

She previously served as Nigeria’s finance minister on two occasions and once as a foreign affairs minister.

The 66-year old also served as former managing director of the World Bank and as a chairperson at the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.

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