The World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) first female and first African Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala resumed work yesterday after her official appointment on 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 arrival of his successor, Joe Biden, made it possible for her to 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.”
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 told reporters about her expectations for her first day.
One of the first tasks for the 66-year-old Nigerian former finance minister will 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 has voiced concern about growing protectionism and nationalism.
The leader has already insisted that trade barriers must be lowered to help the world recover.