Hopes for WTO momentum as new boss takes charge

Hopes for WTO momentum as new boss takes charge


Geneva: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala took over as the World Trade Organization on Monday in the hope that she can prompt troubled institutions to deal with its challenges, including the global economic crisis triggered by the pandemic.

“The WTO is too important to allow it to be slowed down, paralysed and moribund,” the first woman and first African to ever lead the global trade body told AFP a day after her nomination last month.

The 66-year-old Nigerian former finance minister takes the helm after the WTO was left adrift for seven months following the sudden departure of Brazilian career diplomat Roberto Azevedo last August, a year ahead of schedule.

After a long selection process, Okonjo-Iweala, a development economist who has worked at the World Bank for 25 years, was finally appointed by the 164 members of the WTO on February 15.

Of the first eight candidates, she was clearly the favorite among the last two candidates in November. However, her appointment was postponed because former US President Donald Trump blocked her nomination.

The arrival of his successor Joe Biden made it possible for her to obtain the consensus support needed to end the deadlock.

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