Liberia Begins 2nd MSME Int’l Forum Tuesday-Top ITC Official Expected

The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, with the support from international partners will tomorrow begin its second Micro, Small Medium Enterprises (MSME) Conference in Monrovia.   The conference which runs from April 29 to May 2, 2014 will be possible through the support from the Government of Japan, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the International Trade Center, USAID/FED and other partners.

According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry the Second National MSME Conference and Trade Fair, will showcase their secrets-to-success, network with big local, regional and international investors, and explore unique opportunities for small businesses in Liberia.

The second conference’s theme is ‘From Vision to Implementation: Buying Liberians, Building Liberia,” and this year’s spotlight will be on The Agribusiness Experience in Liberia, showcasing Made-in- Liberia cotton and artisanal cloth from Lofa county, production of domestic cassava and rice, as well as goods and services from a range of other sectors.

MSME conference will highlight key policy activities that promote all things Made-in-Liberia, namely: hosting the Liberia Entrepreneurial Exchange Round Table; launching The Liberian Marketplace store; facilitating The Liberian Experience Through the Arts for the promotion of intellectual property rights; announcing the first project under the Liberia Innovation Fund for Entrepreneurs (LIFE); launching the Entrepreneur Plus (E+) Program showcasing the most innovative entrepreneurs in the nation; and undertaking other major policy initiatives.

The MSME Conference will include thematic plenary sessions on policy opportunities for MSMEs in the areas of Access to Finance and Access to Markets, with multiple breakout sessions to allow more detailed discussion.

During The Conference, a number of qualified and merit-selected Liberian businesses will exhibit their products and services at The Made-in-Liberia Trade Fair.

According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, this year’s headliner at the second MSME Conference is Ms. Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC).

ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transitioning economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the Millennium Development Goals.

Ms. Arancha Gonzalez, an expert in international trade issues with 20 years of experience served as Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC) since September 2013.

Ms. Gonzalez, a Spanish national, has extensive knowledge about international trade and economics, coupled with broad experience in trade and development matters in the public and private sectors, as well as in management at multilateral organizations.

Before joining ITC, Ms. Gonzalez served as Chief of Staff to World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy from 2005 to 2013. During her tenure at the WTO, she played an active role in launching the WTO’s Aid for Trade initiative and served as Mr. Lamy’s representative at the G-20.

Prior to working at the WTO, Ms. Gonzalez held several positions at the European Commission, conducting negotiations of trade agreements and assisting developing countries in trade- development efforts. Between 2002 and 2004, she was the European Union spokeswoman for trade and adviser to the European Union Trade Commissioner.

Ms. Gonzalez began her career in the private sector advising companies on trade, competition and state-aid matters. She served as an associate at Bruckhaus Westrick Stegemann, a major German law firm, in Brussels.

Ms. Gonzalez holds a degree in law from the University of Navarra and a postgraduate degree in European Law from the University of Carlos Ill, Madrid. Besides her native Spanish, she speaks English, French, German and Italian.