Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first female director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), says her final selection was both exciting and daunting at the same time.
“It feels exciting and it feels daunting at the same time. I look forward to the challenge … deep reforms are needed to rebrand and reposition the organization,” she said during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
Okonjo-Iweala said ramping up global efforts to combat Covid-19 was also a priority.”One of … top priorities that I have, that I’m passionate about, is how can trade and the WTO play a stronger role in bringing solutions to the Covid-19 pandemic, both on the health side but also on the economic side,” she said, adding that while the economic recovery will depend substantially on trade, solving public health challenges also required “good trade.”
“A strong WTO is vital if we are to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. I look forward to working with members to shape and implement the policy responses we need to get the global economy going again.
“Our organization faces a great many challenges but working together we can collectively make the WTO stronger, more agile and better adapted to the realities of today.”
Okonjo-Iweala was appointed the DG on Monday after months of uncertainty at the trade body.
The WTO thanked the former minister for her graciousness and patience through the selection process.
“This is a very significant moment for the WTO. On behalf of the General Council, I extend our warmest congratulations to Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on her appointment as the WTO’s next Director-General and formally welcome her to this General Council meeting,” David Walker, the General Council chair, said.
“Dr Ngozi, on behalf of all members I wish to sincerely thank you for your graciousness in these exceptional months, and for your patience.
“We look forward to collaborating closely with you, Dr Ngozi, and I am certain that all members will work with you constructively during your tenure as Director-General to shape the future of this organization,” he added.
Walker, who is from New Zealand worked together with co-facilitators Dacio Castillo (Honduras) and Harald Aspelund (Iceland) through the nine-month DG selection process.