New Democrat (Monrovia)

14 December 2012

Liberia: WTO Assesses Liberia

The World Trade Organization has concluded an assessment of Liberia's bid for the WTO membership, and the possible business implications thereof.

The WTO assessment mission was concluded Thursday at the end of a three-day National Dialogue on two accessions of Liberia.

In 2007, the Government of Liberia applied to the WTO expressing its intention to become member of that august body, as well as formulating its initial offers for goods and services in the coming months, as a basis for further negotiating with the organization's members, and carrying out couple of reforms to bring Liberia's trading environment in line with the WTO Agreement.

Addressing journalists at the Cape Hotel following the conclusion of the WTO's assessment workshop, Acting Minister of Commerce, Axel M. Addy, said: "WTO accession concerns all of us."

"Liberia is the last country in West Africa to become a member of TWO. At this moment, it is important to capture inputs from different government entities as well as private sector partners to be reflected into our negotiating strategy. Most importantly, we need to build the commitment for the intensive process of carrying out and implementing regulatory reforms on a variety of issues.

Minister Addy who minced no words in expressing the challenges that lie ahead of accession process expressed confidence that through a strategic approach, and commitment, "Liberia can utilize the process to improve its business environment, secure market access for its importers and exporters, and make the country more attractive for foreign investment."

If accepted by the WTO, Liberia is expected to benefit from an improved economic and business environment, including an open market system, access to donor funds and negotiation of tariffs, among others, according to him.

157 countries are member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). 27 more governments, including Liberia, have applied for membership of the WTO and are at different stages in the negotiation process.

WTO is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations, based on the WTO agreements, which are negotiated and signed by the World's trading nations and ratified in their parliaments.

The goal of the organization is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business in a non-discriminatory, predictable and transparent business environment, according to officials.

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