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Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to Lead World Trade Organization

Former Nigeria Finance Minister, Ngozi Okojo-Iweala, is all set to become the next Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) after American president Joe Biden’s administration announced its strong support for her candidacy.

The only second female contender in the race, Yoo Myung-hee, the South Korean trade minister who was also a finalist for the role, said on Friday that she planned to withdraw herself from consideration, leaving the path open for Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, The Associated Press reported.

“Grateful for the expression of support from the US today for DG @WTO. Congratulations to Madam Yoo of Rep. Korea for a hard fought campaign.Thank You President Muhammadu Buhari@MBuhari & all Nigerians for your unflinching support.Thank you friends. Love to my family.Glory to God, ” Ngozi-Okonjo Iweala tweeted on Friday, February 6.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will be the first woman to lead the organization since its inception. She had previously worked with the Wolrd Bank for 25 years.

The appointment of the Director General had been put on hold since November 6 after administrators at the WTO said that Okonjo-Iweala had support from over 70% of the WTO members but the United States administration under Donald Trump had thrown their support behind South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee. The current dispensation of the WTO requires that none of its 164 members oppose the choice.

But in a statement on Friday by the Office of the United States Trade Representative and reported the New York Times, the office said “is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience managing a large international organization with a diverse membership.”

“It is particularly important to underscore that two highly qualified women made it to the final round of consideration for the position of W.T.O. director general — the first time that any woman has made it to this stage in the history of the institution,” the statement said.

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What Does it Mean for Africa’s Development?

With the launching of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in Ghana late last year, Africa  has been projected to be the biggest trade bloc in the world. The Africa Report projects that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala “can ensure that Africa is not left out of important discussions and policies” regarding trade in the world.

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