World Trade Organization countries today appointed Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as director-general.
On March 1, Okonjo-Iweala will take office and select her four deputies on the basis of members’ recommendations. Her term will last until August 31, 2025, meaning that it will last four years and six months, which is an exceptionally long term for the head of the WTO.
Okonjo-Iweala is the World Trade Organization’s first African and first woman director-general. A dual Nigerian-American national, she served as Nigeria’s finance minister and worked at the World Bank for several decades.
On February 5, U.S. President Joe Biden endorsed her candidacy, breaking the stalemate between the U.S.-supported South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee and Okonjo-Iweala, whom all the other WTO members rallied behind several months ago.
Okonjo-Iweala is expected to bring fresh energy to the trade body, which has been battered by former U.S. president Donald Trump’s scorn for multilateralism. In 2019, the Appellate Body, the world’s main court for trade disputes, stopped working because the U.S. consistently vetoed the appointment of new judges.