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WTO Appoints Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as First Female Leader


The World Trade Organization picked its first female leader on Monday, offering a fresh start to an organization seeking to revive its influence over global economic rules.

The WTO’s 164 members unanimously backed former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, an economist who also rose to the top ranks of the World Bank a decade ago, as director-general.

Ms. Okonjo-Iweala emerged as the consensus pick for the job in October when the WTO was due to decide on a new leader. However, her appointment was blocked by the Trump administration, which said she lacked experience on trade issues.

Earlier this month, shortly after South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-Hee pulled out of the race, the Biden administration backed Ms. Okonjo-Iweala. She will be the WTO’s first African leader and her term will end in 2025 unless renewed.

The 66-year-old faces a daunting challenge in reviving the influence of the WTO, whose previous leader, Brazil’s Roberto Azevedo, said last May he was stepping down a year early.


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