WTO obtains first African woman and first female patron Business

Okonjo-Iweala, who boasted of US, EU and African support, was not at the WTO headquarters in Geneva for Monday’s meeting, but was due to hold a press conference in line after its conclusion.

She will take over an organization mired in multiple crises and struggling to help member states overcome the severe global economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Okonjo-Iweala argued during the race that she was best placed among the eight candidates for the post to guide the WTO through crises, calling herself a reform candidate.

She warned that growing protectionism and nationalism had been spurred by the pandemic and insisted that barriers must be lowered to help the world rise again.

Even before Covid-19 hit the global economy, the WTO was weighed down by stalled trade negotiations and struggled to stem trade tensions between the United States and China.

The WTO has also faced relentless attacks from Washington under Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump. Among other things, Trump ended the WTO dispute settlement appeal system at the end of 2019.

Okonjo-Iweala said his priorities were to get long-stalled trade negotiations on fisheries subsidies across the finish line and revive the WTO Appellate Body.

Twice Nigeria’s finance minister (2003-2006 and 2011-2015), and his first female foreign minister in two months in 2006, Okonjo-Iweala is considered a pioneer in her native country.

She brushed aside claims that she lacked experience as trade minister or negotiator.

She has presented herself as a champion of Nigeria’s endemic corruption – claiming that her own mother was even kidnapped for her attempts to tackle the scourge.

But her detractors argue that she should have done more to deal with it when she was in power.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard-trained development economist, Okonjo-Iweala also had a 25-year career as a development economist at the World Bank, eventually becoming her number two.

She is a member of the board of directors of Twitter and chaired Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

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This notice was published: 2021-02-15 18:34:53