ECOWAS endorses Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for WTO director-general

Ndgozi Okonjo-Iweala

The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, has endorsed former Nigerian finance minister, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for World Trade Organisation director-general.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama said in a statement that:

“#ECOWAS has formally endorsed Dr. @NOIweala for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation for the period of 2021-2025. Also called on other African and Non-African countries to do same.”

A letter attached to the announcement by the minister reads in part:

1. TAKES NOTE of the communication by the Chairman of the General Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) announcing the commencement of a process for the appointment of a new Director-General of WTO, with the opening and closing dates of nominations set as 8 June and 8 July 2020 respectively,

2. TAKES INTO ACCOUNT that since the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 1 January 1995. which is a successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) established on 1 January 1948. no African has assumed the position of Director-General of the Organization.

3. FURTHER NOTES that the Federal Republic of Nigeria has formally nominated Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the position of Director-General of WTO for the period 2021 — 2025:

4. HAVING ACKNOWLEDGED the strong academic and professional background of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala and her very large experience in national affairs as Nigeria’s Finance Minister (2003-2006 and 2011-2015) and Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister briefly in 2006;

5. HAVING FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGED her long years of managerial experience at the top echelons of multilateral institutions, her established reputation as a fearless reformer, her excellent negotiating and political skills, her experience of over 30 VPAFS as a Development Economist with a long-standing interest in trade, her excellent academic qualifications, her positions as Managing Director World Bank, and currently as Board Chair Gay’, and African Union Special Envoy to Mobilize Financial Resources for the fight against Covid 19:

6. ENDORSES the candidature of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organization for the period 2021-2025, and

7. CALLS on other African countries as well as non-African countries to endorse her candidature

On the 10th of June, the WTO confirmed the nomination of Okon-Iweala by Nigeria for the position.

In a statement published on its site: “Nigeria nominates Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for post of WTO Director-General

Nigeria, on 9 June 2020, nominated Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the post of WTO Director-General to succeed the current Director-General, Mr Roberto Azevêdo, who has announced he will step down on 31 August 2020.”

“According to the timetable announced by the Chair of the General Council, David Walker, the nomination period will close on 8 July 2020.

“Shortly after the nomination period has closed, candidates will be invited to meet with members at a special General Council meeting, present their views and take questions from the membership.”

The WTO deals with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.

Nigeria’s Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (born 13 June 1954) is a Nigerian-born economist and international development expert. She sits on the Boards of Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), and the African Risk Capacity (ARC).

Previously, Okonjo-Iweala spent a 25-year career at the World Bank as a development economist, scaling the ranks to the Number 2 position of Managing Director, Operations (2007-2011). She also served two terms as Finance Minister of Nigeria (2003-2006, 2011-2015) under the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Goodluck Jonathan respectively.

Other African countries such as Egypt have sent their nominations to the WTO.

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