Okonjo-Iweala, the first woman and African, to head WTO
Okonjo-Iweala would be the first woman and the first African to lead the WTO. She is a trained economist who has spent the bulk of her career at the World Bank, holding its No. 2 post as managing director of operations. She has also served Nigeria as its finance minister twice.
“Dr. Okonjo-Iweala brings a wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy from her 25 years with the World Bank and two terms as Nigerian Finance Minister. She is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience managing a large international organization with a diverse membership,” the USTR office wrote in its statement.
The other candidate was South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee who withdrew her bid for the position on Friday.
Yoo and Okonjo-Iweala were the last candidates from an initial field of eight and the first women to be seriously considered for the role. Roberto Azevêdo of Brazil stepped down as director-general in August, a year before his term expired.
“It is particularly important to underscore that two highly qualified women made it to the final round of consideration for the position of WTO Director-General — the first time that any woman has made it to this stage in the history of the institution,” the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative wrote Friday in an unattributed statement.
What’s next: The WTO’s next General Council meeting is scheduled for March 1-2, but a special session to appoint Okonjo-Iweala could now be called sooner.
Featured image: AFP/Getty Images/Forbes