World Trade Organization's leadership team will have more women than men for first time

Fri 7 May 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News


The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) leadership team will have more women than men for the first time, with two female deputy director generals announced this week.

They will work alongside director general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who became the organisation’s first female and African leader in March.

China and US representation

The group of four deputy-directors also includes representatives from the US and China as the WTO seeks to achieve a balance between the world’s two largest economies, according to Rappler.

The organisation came under serious pressure when Donald Trump was president of the US, with his administration accusing it of being a “mess” that treated the country “unfairly”.

The Geneva-based body also frequently found itself caught in tariff disputes between the US and China during the Trump presidency.

President Biden has called on the WTO to reform but has given its his backing when arguing in favour of rules-based international trade.

The new deputy director generals

Angela Ellard (US)

Ellard has worked at the US Congress as majority and minority chief trade counsel and staff director. She is an expert on trade and international economic policy, as well as being experienced in negotiating trade agreements.

She has negotiated and delivered significant bipartisan trade policies and legislation for the Trump, Obama, Bush and Clinton administrations.

Anabel González (Costa Rica)

Gonzalez served as minister of foreign trade of Costa Rica, director-general for international trade negotiations, director-general of the Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE), and as special ambassador and chief negotiator of the US-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement.

She has also worked at the World Bank as a senior director, the WTO as director of the agriculture and commodities division and as senior consultant with the Inter-American Development Bank.

Jean-Marie Paugam (France)

Paugam has held senior management positions in the French government on trade, most recently as permanent representative of France to the WTO.

He has held a number of senior positions in the French Ministry of Economy and Finance, including as a member of the executive committee of the French Treasury.

He has also served as deputy executive director of the International Trade Centre in Geneva.

Xiangchen Zhang (China)

Currently serving as vice minister in the Ministry of Commerce of China, Zhang has extensive experience on WTO issues, international negotiations and policy research.

He served until recently as China's permanent representative to the WTO and previously as deputy permanent representative. He has had an extensive career of more than 30 years in international trade.

You can read more about the new deputy director generals on the WTO website.

‘Vaccine policy is economic policy’

In recent weeks, Okonjo-Iweala has pressed the case for tackling the Covid-19 health crisis and the economic recovery from it.

Speaking to The World, she said: “I say that vaccine policy is economic policy because we have to solve the health crisis if we want economic recovery in a sustainable fashion”.