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Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala poses for a picture at her home in Potomac, Maryland. Photo: Eric Baradat/Getty Images

The World Trade Organization announced Monday that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian economist and former finance minister, has been selected as the global trade body's next director-general.

Why it matters: Okonjo-Iweala was named to the position by representatives from the WTO's 164 member countries, becoming the first woman and first African to take the helm.

  • The Biden administration endorsed her candidacy after former President Trump had previously blocked the appointment.
  • "But unblocking the appointment is only the start in dealing with trade disputes launched by Trump, and in resolving U.S. concerns about the WTO that date to the Obama administration," the AP writes.

What she's saying: The WTO “is facing so many challenges” and is in need of “deep and wide-ranging reforms," Okonjo-Iweala said in an online news conference.

  • "A strong WTO is vital if we are able to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic," she said, adding that "vaccine nationalism" could slow pandemic recovery.
  • “It will not be easy because we have the issue of lack of trust among members which has built up over time."

What to watch: Okonjo-Iweala will start in her new capacity on March 1, for a renewable term expiring on Aug. 31, 2025.

Go deeper

McConnell, McCarthy say 2017 tax law is "red line" in infrastructure talks

The top Republicans in the House and Senate told reporters after meeting with President Biden at the White House that "there is a bipartisan desire to get an outcome" on an infrastructure package, but stressed that revisiting the 2017 tax cuts is a "red line."

Why it matters: Wednesday marked the first time that Biden has hosted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) at the White House.

McCarthy: "I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy" of Biden's win

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was asked Wednesday whether he was concerned about elevating Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) to GOP leadership after she has promoted baseless claims about the election. He responded: "I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election."

Why it matters: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) was ousted as House GOP conference chair earlier Wednesday — in a vote that McCarthy supported — over her continued criticisms of former President Trump and his lies about election fraud.

Updated 55 mins ago - World

Gaza crisis: Casualties pile up with no signs of ceasefire from Israel, Hamas

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip leave their neighborhood on Wednesday following an explosion. Photo: li Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tel Aviv — With Israel and Hamas now engaged in their most destructive fight in seven years, the Biden administration is dispatching a State Department official to join the de-escalation efforts.

The latest: The Israeli air force attacked a meeting of senior Hamas military leaders on Wednesday in Gaza and reported it had killed the Gaza City Brigade commander and the heads of Hamas’ cyber arm and weapons research and development department, along with at least three other senior officials.

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