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Thursday, May 6, 2021

WTO Appoints Nigerian as First Female Leader

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The World Trade Organization picked its first female leader on Monday, offering a fresh start to an organization seeking to revive its influence over global economic rules.

The WTO’s 164 members unanimously backed former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, an economist who also rose to the top ranks of the World Bank a decade ago, as director-general.

Ms. Okonjo-Iweala emerged as the consensus pick for the job in October when the WTO was due to decide on a new leader. However, her appointment was blocked by the Trump administration, which said she lacked experience on trade issues.

Earlier this month, shortly after South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-Hee pulled out of the race, the Biden administration backed Ms. Okonjo-Iweala. She will be the WTO’s first African leader and her term, which starts March 1, will end in August 2025 unless renewed.

“The challenges facing the WTO are numerous and tricky, but they are not insurmountable,” Ms. Okonjo-Iweala said after being appointed. “There is light at the end of the tunnel if we work together in a transparent manner that builds trust.”

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