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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Set To Be Appointed First Female, African DG Of WTO Today

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World Trade Organization looks set to appoint Nigeria’s former minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its first female and first African leader on Monday, after nearly six months without a leader.

WTO has called for a special general council meeting, where the World Bank veteran is expected to be formally selected as the global trade body’s new director-general, AFP reports.

US President Joe Biden strongly swung behind her candidacy shortly after the only other remaining contender, South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, pulled out.

Okonjo-Iweala after securing the Biden administration’s support on February 6 said; “I look forward to finalising the process.”

The organisation is also eager to conclude the drawn-out process, having been leaderless since Brazilian career diplomat Roberto Azevedo stepped down last August, a year ahead of schedule.

The process of picking one of eight candidates to succeed him had been expected to wrap up by November, but the administration of former US president Donald Trump blocked the consensus to appoint Okonjo-Iweala.

The 66-year-old woman will not be at the WTO’s Geneva headquarters for Monday’s virtual session and it is not known when she would take up her duties.

The 164-member organisation’s special session would hold on Monday afternoon and Okonjo-Iweala is scheduled to hold an online press conference two hours later.

‌WTO picks its leaders through consensus-finding, so even though she is the only candidate still in the race — with backing from US, EU and African — there is always the chance of a spanner being thrown in the works.

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

Via AFP.

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