The World Trade Organisation was established in 1995 with the purpose of promoting open trade across the world to benefit every continent. It negotiates and administers rules for international trade and tries to resolve disputes among its 164 members. The Geneva-based body has been without a permanent director-general since Roberto Azevêdo stepped down a year earlier than planned in August.
An economist and former finance minister of Nigeria, Okonjo-Iweala was confimed as the first black and African woman to act as director-general of the World Trade Organization on Monday. Okonjo-Iweala was appointed by the WTO after the last remaining rival candidate, South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee, withdrew from the race. She will take up her post on March 1, initially for a term that runs until August 2025.
According to CNN, Okonjo-Iweala spent 25 years at the World Bank as a development economist, rising to the position of managing director. She also chaired the board of Gavi, which is helping to distribute coronavirus vaccines globally, stepping down at the end of her term in December.
It feels exciting and it feels daunting at the same time. I look forward to the challenge … deep reforms are needed to rebrand and reposition the organization. One of … top priorities that I have, that I’m passionate about, is how can trade and the WTO play a stronger role in bringing solutions to the Covid-19 pandemic, both on the health side but also on the economic side.she told CNN.Okonjo-Iweala said that while economic recovery was reliant on trade, solving public health challenges also required “good trade.”