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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will become the first woman and first person from Africa to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO), the organization said in a news release Monday.

The 66-year-old Nigerian economist was appointed to serve a four-year term ending in August 2025 and assumes the director-general position after the WTO conducted a nine-month search process for its new head.

“I am honoured to have been selected by WTO members as WTO Director-General,” she said in a statement. “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.”

The Trump administration initially opposed Okonjo-Iweala’s selection, according to the news release, but the U.S. reversed course in early February after another leading candidate, Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea, dropped out of consideration.

Okonjo-Iweala will assume control over the largest economic organization in the world, responsible for regulating trade disputes between nations. The WTO clashed with the Trump administration as recently as September, when it ruled the former president’s tariffs on $400 billion of Chinese goods was illegal.

Former President Trump frequently criticized the WTO throughout his presidency and threatened to withdraw the U.S. from the organization, claiming that the multinational body allows China’s government to take advantage of other countries including the U.S. 

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