The World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) first female and first African Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala resumed work yesterday after being officially appointed February 15.
Her appointment comes as she fills a six-month WTO leadership void and after her campaign was derailed by a veto from the former United States (U.S.) President Donald Trump administration.
The coming of Trumps successor, Joe Biden, enabled her receive the consensus backing required to end the impasse.
“I am coming into one of the most important institutions in the world and we have a lot of work to do,” the former Nigerian finance and foreign minister said as she arrived for her first day on the job in Geneva. I feel ready to go," she enthused.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is hitting the ground running, with her first day on the job in Geneva coinciding with the annual meeting of the WTO’s General Council.
“I am hoping to be able to listen in and see what delegations have to say, what ambassadors have to say, about the key issues,” she said while telling reporters about her expectations for her first day.
One of the prime tasks for the 66-year-old Nigeria's former finance minister would be to nominate four new deputy directors to help recharge the organisation’s negotiating mechanism.
This and others amid the global economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, about which Okonjo-Iweala had voiced concerns concerning protectionism and nationalism.
The new WTO DG had already insisted that trade barriers must be lowered to help the world recover.