Abuja: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, an economist and former finance minister of Nigeria, has become the first woman and the first African to lead the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Okonjo-Iweala was tapped for the position after South Korea’s trade minister Yoo Myung-hee announced on Friday her decision to withdraw her bid to head the WTO.
Yoo Myung-hee had been supported by the Trump administration.
In a statement, the US Trade Representative called Okonjo-Iweala a “wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy” and said she has “proven experience managing a large international organisation”.
New US President Joe Biden’s administration on Friday offered its “strong support” to Okonjo-Iweala to lead WTO.
The statement from the US Trade Representative continued: “The Biden-Harris Administration is pleased to express its strong support for the candidacy of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next director-general of the WTO. Dr Okonjo-Iweala brings a wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy from her 25 years with the World Bank and two terms as Nigerian Finance Minister. She is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience managing a large international organisation with a diverse membership.
“The United States stands ready to engage in the next phase of the WTO process for reaching a consensus decision on the WTO Director-General. The Biden-Harris Administration looks forward to working with a new WTO Director-General to find paths forward to achieve necessary substantive and procedural reform of the WTO.”
Okonjo-Iweala responded to the outpouring of support over her new gig on Twitter, writing: “Grateful for the expression of support from the US today.”
“It is particularly important to underscore that two highly qualified women made it to the final round of consideration for the position of WTO director general — the first time that any woman has made it to this stage in the history of the institution,” said the statement from the US Trade Representative.