Liberia is poised to immensely benefit from an influx of Global Trade when the country becomes a full member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December of this year. A high power WTO delegation that visited the country last week and engaged the private sector to review the business opportunities in the Liberia’s Accession Package told a news conference last Friday that Liberia is on the way to becoming a WTO country in December.
The delegation said Liberia becoming a member of the WTO will increase regional and international trade and further increase the country’s chance to benefit from a well structured standard manner of carrying out trade.
The delegation which included Ambassador Joakim Reiter, Deputy Secretary General and Chair of the Working Party of Liberia’s Accession to the WTO as well as Dr. Charles Osakwe, Director of the Accession Division at the WTO said Liberia has made some critical concessions in ensuring that the country completes its accession process to the WTO.
Dr. Osakwe said Liberia stands to benefit from access to international markets, rapid regional and global trade and improvement of goods standard.
He also said being a member of the WTO will lead to improvement in infrastructure to speed up trade in the country and enhance resources allocation.
Dr. Osakwe told the news conference that Liberia will also use the WTO process to invite investors to the country that will enhance infrastructural development because infrastructure is the lubricant for the realization of smooth and faster trade.
He informed journalists that Liberia’s negotiators negotiated a high quality and professional agreement for Liberia’s Accession to the WTO, saying, “Liberia with WTO is opened for business”.
He stressed that with WTO membership Liberia will raise the quality and standard of trade with lower tariff.
Speaking earlier at the news conference, Ambassador Reiter said their trip to Liberia is in recognition of the work that Liberia has done and to present the country’s accession agreement to the public and the private sector.
Ambassador Reiters and Dr. Osakwe lauded Liberia’s efforts to join the international trade body and especially lauded President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for steps taken to have Liberia as a member of the WTO.
Dr. Osakwe said the steps taken by the President are designed to ensure international best practice in conducting international trade noting that Liberia as the first democratic country in Africa cannot afford to be backward on issues of international concerns.
He said the WTO is about improving economic governance, improving private sector development and creating jobs. “Our visit is a vote of confidence for Liberia’s accession to the WTO”.
Also speaking at the conference, Liberia’s Commerce and Industry Minister, Mr. Axel Addy said Liberia’s accession to the WTO will in no way change laws such as the Liberianization Law, the Small Business Law and other local instruments that are aimed to proper facilitate trade locally.
Liberia will hold its final working party in early October where the final Draft Accession Package will be presented to WTO for approval and referendum. The final formal decision shall be taken at the tenth WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya in December of this year.
Liberia’s accession has been supported by the Swedish National Board of Trade (SIDA/NBT), the International Trade Center (ITC), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) the Advisory Center on WTO Law (ACWL) the World Bank, Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) and the Geneva–based Law Firm of King and Salding; reports Timothy T. Seaklon