May 6, 2021


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“Hope”: the first woman of the WTO and the first African leader get to work | News on the coronavirus pandemic

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On her first day on the job, World Trade Organization chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala spoke to delegates from her 164 member states and said there were many “critical issues” at hand. adjust.

The first woman and first African Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, began work on Monday, ending a six-month leadership vacuum as she aims to revive the dog of custody of world trade before a major end-of-year meeting.

After a long campaign that was derailed in the final stages by a veto from the Trump administration, the 66-year-old Nigerian was confirmed as boss last month, pledging to ‘forget about business as usual’ to the body which finds it difficult to conclude new agreements and whose arbitration functions are paralyzed.

“He feels good. I am entering one of the most important institutions in the world and we have a lot of work to do. I feel ready to go,” Okonjo-Iweala told a reporter upon arriving at the WTO headquarters by the lake in Geneva, where she donned a mask and cranked officials.

The first day with the former Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs at the head of the WTO coincides with a closed-door meeting of its supreme decision-making body, the General Council.

Delegates from its 164 member states virtually joined in and agreed to hold the next major ministerial conference in Geneva, Switzerland, starting November 29. The WTO subsequently confirmed the date.

The meeting was originally scheduled to be held in Kazakhstan in 2020, but was delayed due to the pandemic. Okonjo-Iweala has said she hopes this will be the place to strike deals on ending fisheries subsidies and reforms for the main WTO appeals body that has been crippled by the Trump administration.

“Things are not easy when members are negotiating and there are still many critical issues to be addressed. But we are hopeful, ”she said, addressing a fish ice statue erected by environmental groups outside the WTO.

Okonjo-Iweala has previously said agreeing on trade rules to facilitate the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is also a priority.

His predecessor, Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, resigned on August 31, a year earlier.

Since the role of CEO holds little executive power, some analysts question Okonjo-Iweala’s ability to revive the body in the face of so many challenges, including the ongoing trade tensions between the United States and China and growing protectionism accentuated by the pandemic.

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