Cater and Merger consult CEO, Hon. Godson Azu has join millions of Nigerians to congratulate history making Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who has been appointed the new chief of the World Trade Organization, becoming the first woman to ever lead the Switzerland-based institution and the first African citizen to take on the role.
She’s dealt with hardship and hostage takers, and now this African woman is taking charge of the WTO. This is not new to us as Okonjo-Iweala is known for breaking new records. The Amazon was Born in Nigeria, graduated from Harvard University in 1976 and then earned a PhD from MIT. She then became the first woman to take on the Nigerian finance ministry and the foreign ministry too. She was also the first female to run for the World Bank presidency, where she spent 25 years.
In October, her WTO candidacy was supported by all geographic regions at the trade body apart from the United States, where the then-Trump administration said it would continue backing the Korean candidate. However, Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment was cleared when President Joe Biden announced a few days ago his support for the 66-year old.
The WTO is at a crossroads after many countries seemed to take a step back from long-standing norms governing international trade. In addition, its appellate body has been paralyzed for months after the U.S. — again, under the Trump administration — prevented the appointment of new judges therefore rendering it unable to rule on any trade disputes.
According to the Amazon In a statement to the WTO Members sometime in July, “My vision is also of a rejuvenated and strengthened WTO that will be confident to tackle effectively ongoing issues,”
“It is clear that a rules-based system without a forum in which a breach of the rules can be effectively arbitrated loses credibility over time,” she said at the same hearing.
Officials in the European Union and the United States have previously said the WTO needs to be reformed and its rules updated, but there is no consensus on how to do it.
“The WTO appears paralyzed at a time when its rule book would greatly benefit from an update to 21st century issues such as ecommerce and the digital economy, the green and circular economies,” Okonjo-Iweala said.
She is also likely to support female participation in global trade, having said that “greater efforts should be made to include women-owned enterprises in the formal sector.”
Okonjo-Iweala was built in the dirty sand of hardship and faced numerous challenges while growing up till her very moment of victory but perseverance is the key.
Okonjo-Iweala has said she can take hardship, having experienced Nigeria’s brutal civil war during her teenage years, during which her family reportedly lost all their savings.
“I can take hardship. I can sleep on the cold floor anytime,” the 67 year old told the BBC in an interview in 2012.