Nigerian Economist, former Finance Minister, and World Bank Managing Director, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is now clear to head and lead the top job as the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO). She makes history by becoming the first woman and African to hold such a position.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was among five contenders vying for the position. They are Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri of Saudi Arabia, Liam Fox, a UK politician, Kenya’s former foreign minister Amina Mohamed, and Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee.
Out of the five, two emerged as a finalist for the position. They were Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Yoo Myung-hee. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala received overwhelming support from African leaders and the European Union, except for the United States led by the Trump Administration who rallied behind Yoo Myung-hee.
The World Trade Organization had to suspend the election process indefinitely. According to Diplomats from Geneva, the decision was taken to see whether the US would change its position if Trump lost the presidential election.
With Trump losing the U.S. presidential election to Joe Biden, the Biden Administration declared their support for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Yoo Myung-hee pulled out of the race on February 5. She cleared the field for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to become the first African and female head of the organization that regulates global trade.
“In order to promote the functions of WTO and in consideration of various factors, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy,” Yoo Myung-hee said in a statement.
In a tweet, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala commended her opponent for the “hard-fought race”.
“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,” Okonjo-Iweala tweeted.
With the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area in January 2021, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s victory will be welcomed as a major boost to Africa’s trade dialogue and diplomacy.