The incoming chief of the World Trade Organization is none other than a Black woman who is ready to shake some things up.

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is poised to become the first woman and the first African to lead the WTO in its 25-year history, making her #BlackGirlMagic personified. “Dr. Okonjo-Iweala brings a wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy,” the office of the US trade representative said on Friday in its first public statement under the Biden administration. “She is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience managing a large international organization with a diverse membership.”

The Biden administration’s decision to support Okonjo-Iweala’s campaign is a welcome shift in U.S. support after four years of President Donald Trump (who previously called the “worst trade deal” the U.S. signed). In true Trump fashion, the U.S. administration under his “leadership” had blocked Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy after a WTO selection panel recommended her as chief in October. 

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The newly formed U.S. trade representative’s office under Biden said the U.S. was “pleased to express its strong support for the candidacy of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next director-general of the WTO.”

“She is this wonderful, soft, very gentle woman with an authentic approach to problems but, boy, under that soft glove there is a hard hand and a strong will behind it,” European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said in an interview. “She is going to rock the place.”

Okonjo-Iweala spent 25 years at the World Bank as a development economist, before later leading into the role of managing director. She also chaired the board of Gavi, which is helping to distribute coronavirus vaccines globally.


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