New WTO head promises to treat Taiwan fairly

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala becomes first woman and African to head global trade body

New WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

New WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Sunday (Feb. 14) was officially appointed as the new director-general of the global trade body, becoming the first woman and the first African to lead the organization.

Her term will begin on March 1 and end in August 2025 unless it is renewed.

According to sources familiar with the matter, there were frequent exchanges between Okonjo-Iweala and the Taiwanese government prior to her appointment. She had promised fair treatment for the East Asian nation once she assumed the director-general post, reported CNA. As a result, she received Taiwan's full support to head the organization.

During her acceptance speech on Sunday, the 66-year-old economist said her top priority was to generate solutions to the coronavirus pandemic, both in terms of health and the economy. She emphasized that "new good trade rules" are needed to solve public health challenges and fuel an economic recovery.

Okonjo-Iweala also warned of the risks of "vaccine nationalism" and said that the WTO will work to ensure equal distribution of coronavirus vaccines. She added that she will attempt to reform the organization to restore trust in the global trading system.

Updated : 2021-03-08 00:49 GMT+08:00