The Mo Ibrahim Foundation says Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s experience, wisdom and determination will lift the World Trade Organisation (WTO) above its challenges.

The foundation made this known in its reaction to the confirmation of Okonjo-Iweala as WTO director general.

WTO confirmed the revered economist and development expert as its new boss after holding a special general council meeting on 15 February.

U.S. President Joe Biden backed her candidacy shortly after the only other remaining contender, South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, pulled out.

The Nigerian becomes the first woman and also African to lead the Switzerland-based institution.

‘This comes at a difficult time for multilateralism. Against the backdrop of Covid-19, a tumultuous period for global trade and increasing nationalist tendencies, the WTO faces significant challenges’, the foundation said in a statement.

WTO has faced relentless attacks from the U.S, which has adversely affected the body’s dispute settlement appeal system.

‘Our sister Ngozi will fill this critical role with experience, wisdom and determination – steering an inclusive global trade agenda that is the only way to lift millions out of poverty and bring shared prosperity to the world’.

Okonjo-Iweala, 66, served as Nigeria’s first female finance and foreign minister and has a 25-year career behind her as a development economist at the World Bank.

‘We hope that the WTO will temporarily waive the specific Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)’, it added.

‘This will provide the know-how to manufacture vaccines in Africa, a key step in enabling access to vaccines for all as quickly as possible.

‘This is the only way to ensure a global, coordinated effort to contain Covid-19. If there is one emergency we must address, this is it.

Okonjo-Iweala also serves on Twitter’s board of directors, as chair of the GAVI vaccine alliance and as a special envoy for the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 fight.

Source: Mo Ibrahim Foundation

Photo source: World Bank Photo Collection

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