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WTO Welcomes Its First Woman, African As Director General

NgoziOkonjo-Iweala from Nigeria was appointed on Monday as the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). She will head the leading international trade body. She is the first woman and the first African to hold this office.

According to a statement from the WTO, She was appointed by representatives of the 164 member countries.

She has shown her keenness to address the economic and health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as her first priority.  According to her in order to apply the policy responses, there was a need to get the global economy running again.

She added that while the organization was facing many challenges, all could be made possible if they stood united. She believes a collective effort would make the WTO stronger, more responsive, and better accustomed to current issues.

Joe Biden, US President endorsed her candidacy which was earlier blocked by Donald Trump.

David Bisbee, Charge d’Affaires remarked that the US was committed to working closely with Okonjo-Iweala. He added that the US could easily be relied on as a constructive partner.

Trump’s America first-approach resulted in multiple trade disputes. Biden’s decision to support Okonjo-Iweala could be seen as a step to counter these international problems through cooperative approaches.

Unblocking Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment is the first step in the direction of resolving issues that were started by Trump.  While reversing Trump’s opposition, the Biden administration commended Okonjo-Iweala for the wealth of knowledge she has in economics and international diplomacy.

She has previously served as the finance minister for Nigeria. She was the country’s first woman to hold this office. Okonjo-Iweala also has 25 years of experience at the World Bank, where she ranked up to the position of managing director. She is a dual national of US and Nigeria.

After YooMyung-hee, the South Korean trade minister had withdrawn her candidacy, Okonjo-Iweala was the only candidate left. Roberto Azevedo, her predecessor, stepped down on August 31, a year before the expiration of his term. Okonjo-Iweala shall be assuming office on March 01 this year.

Trump had time and again blamed the WTO for the unfair treatment of the US. He also started a trade war with China in contempt of the WTO framework.  While doing all this he threatened to pull the US out of the trade organization altogether. Trump additionally imposed 25% duties on steel that hit European partners on national security grounds.

While Biden has taken its first step by unblocking Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment, nonetheless another issue still remains unresolved. He has made no statements with regard to unblocking the appellate appointments. He hasn’t yet withdrawn the steel tariffs either.

Now, what remains to be seen is how long it will take for all these trade issues to be resolved.

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