WTO members elect Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Director-General

Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) made history on Monday when the General Council agreed by consensus to select Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria as the organization’s seventh Director-General.

When she takes office on March 1, Dr Okonjo-Iweala will become the first woman and the first African to be chosen as Director-General. Her term, renewable, will expire on 31 August 2025.

Dr 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.

The General Council decision follows months of uncertainty which arose when the United States initially refused to join the consensus around Dr Okonjo-Iweala and threw its support behind Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee of the Republic of Korea. But following Ms Yoo’s decision to withdraw her candidacy on February 5, the administration of newly elected U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. dropped the U.S. objection and announced instead that Washington extends its “strong support” to the candidacy of Dr Okonjo-Iweala.

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