Former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is set to be appointed as the first female and first African to lead the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The organisation made this known in a statement titled, ‘WTO General Council to consider appointment of next Director-General,’ on its website on Tuesday.
The global trade body announced that it would hold a special meeting of its General Council on February 15 “to consider the appointment of the next WTO director-general.”
“The WTO’s General Council will hold a special meeting on 15 February at 15:00 Geneva time to consider the appointment of the next Director-General. The meeting will take place in virtual format,” the statement added.
The development is coming after US President Joe Biden’s administration offered its “strong support” to Okonjo-Iweala to lead WTO, clearing a path for her to become the body’s first female and first African leader.
The move marks another sharp split with former President Donald Trump who paralysed the organisation and opposed the candidacy of the former Nigerian finance minister who was backed by many other countries.
The US Trade Representative (USTR) in a statement last Friday cited Okonjo-Iweala’s “wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy” and said she had “proven experience managing a large international organisation.”
The process to name a successor for Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down last August, has been deadlocked for months.
Key WTO ambassadors tIpped Okonjo-Iweala in October 2020, as the best pick to lead the organisation, but without US support the process was left at a standstill since the director-general is normally chosen by consensus among all 164 member states.
Nigeria’s first woman finance minister trained as a development economist.She has degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.
Okonjo-Iweala, spent a quarter of a century at the World Bank, rising to become the managing director.