World Commerce Group appoints Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as new director-general


Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former finance minister of Nigeria and new WTO chief.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Photographs

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed the new chief of the World Trade Organization, turning into the primary lady to ever lead the Switzerland-based establishment and the primary African citizen to tackle the position. Nonetheless, this isn’t the primary time that Okonjo-Iweala makes historical past.

Born in Nigeria, Okonjo-Iweala graduated from Harvard College in 1976 after which earned a PhD from MIT. She then grew to become the primary lady to tackle the Nigerian finance ministry and the overseas ministry too. She was additionally the primary feminine to run for the World Financial institution presidency, the place she spent 25 years.

In October, her WTO candidacy was supported by all geographic areas on the commerce physique other than the USA, the place the then-Trump administration stated it will proceed backing the Korean candidate. Nonetheless, Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment was cleared when President Joe Biden introduced a number of days in the past his help for the 66-year previous.

Her imaginative and prescient for the WTO

The WTO is at a crossroads after many international locations appeared to take a step again from long-standing norms governing worldwide commerce. As well as, its appellate physique has been paralyzed for months after the U.S. — once more, beneath the Trump administration — prevented the appointment of latest judges due to this fact rendering it unable to rule on any commerce disputes.

“My imaginative and prescient can also be of a rejuvenated and strengthened WTO that can be assured to sort out successfully ongoing points,” Okonjo-Iweala informed WTO members throughout a listening to in July.

“It’s clear {that a} rules-based system with no discussion board wherein a breach of the foundations could be successfully arbitrated loses credibility over time,” she stated on the identical listening to.

I can take hardship. I can sleep on the chilly ground anytime.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

WTO director-general

Officers within the European Union and the USA have beforehand stated the WTO must be reformed and its guidelines up to date, however there isn’t any consensus on methods to do it.

“The WTO seems paralyzed at a time when its rule ebook would vastly profit from an replace to twenty first century points similar to ecommerce and the digital financial system, the inexperienced and round economies,” Okonjo-Iweala stated.

She can also be prone to help feminine participation in international commerce, having stated that “higher efforts needs to be made to incorporate women-owned enterprises within the formal sector.”

Sleeping on the ground