Ngozi Okonjo Iweala: First Woman to lead WTO

The Nigerian economist Ngozi Okonjo Iweala has been appointed as the head the World Trade Organization. She has become the first woman to take this position. She has also become the first African to hold this charge amid rising protectionism.


  • Okonjo-Iweala was named as the director-general by the representatives of the 164 member countries of WTO.
  • The WTO is the organisation dealing with the rules of trade between the nations on the basis of negotiated agreements.
  • The appointment of the African women came after the US President Joe Biden approved her candidacy.
  • The appointment will come into effect on March 1, 2021.


  • The former US President, Donald Trump had blocked the candidacy earlier.
  • The United States had also blocked the appointment of any new judges to the WTO’s appellate body.
  • It had frozen the WTO’s ability to resolve the extended and complex trade disputes.

Why US blocked the appointment?

The US government had blocked the appointment by arguing that the world trade organization is slow-moving and bureaucratic. The government also highlighted that it is ill-equipped to handle the problems posed by the state-dominated economy of China.

World Trade Organization (WTO)

It is an intergovernmental organization. The body deals with the regulation of international trade between the nations. It was established in January 1995 in accordance with the Marrakesh Agreement.

Marrakesh Agreement

This agreement was signed after the Marrakesh Declaration in April 1994. It was signed in Marrakesh, Morocco. The agreement was signed by 123 nations in April 1994. The Marrakesh Agreement had replaced the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).  The agreement is supplemented by agreements on issues like sanitary and phytosanitary measures, trade in services, intellectual property rights etc.




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