The New Dawn (Monrovia)

25 July 2014

Liberia: Commerce Min. Raps On Liberia WTO Accession

Liberia's Commerce and Industry Minister Axel Addy has underscored Liberia's firm commitment to joining the multilateral trading system of the World Trade Organization by 2015.

Speaking at the General Council of the World Trade Organization, WTO, in Geneva, Switzerland on Liberia's Accession Thursday, Mr. Addy said with support from members of the WTO Secretariat and other partners, Liberia has accelerated preparations for its second Working Party Meeting, adding that Liberia remain engaged with its partners and also making several reforms on the domestic front.

Minister Addy said Liberia as a post conflict Least Developed Country, it acknowledges that it has many challenges ahead and said the country must diversify its exports away from rubber and iron ore which currently make up 95 percent of its export earnings.

The Liberia's Commerce and Industry Minister said Liberia also need to find jobs for its youthful population and build the capacity of it young generation to make it a competitive destination for investors, saying that this is why the country relies upon WTO Members continued support and partnership for Liberia's accession to the WTO.

He said Liberia welcomes the Trade Facilitation Agreement which was recently launched and intended to provide support to developing and least-developed countries. Minister Addy said as a member of ECOWAS, the African Union and the ACP, the Trade Facility represents a needed support to jumpstart the process of building Least Developed Countries capacity to implement the Trade Facility Agreement.

He said Liberia believes in the values the multilateral trading system brings to its members and its potential to contribute to the transformation of the economies to reduce poverty around the world. He noted that Liberia look forward to serving as a committed and active member strengthening and safeguarding the multilateral trading system.

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.

Liberia submitted its comprehensive Memorandum on Foreign Trade Regime in April 2011, and subsequently in June 2012 Liberia submitted its answers to the first round of questions from WTO members. Liberia successfully convened its first Working Party Meeting on July 11, 2012 at the WTO Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.

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.

A little over 155 countries are currently member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Many countries including Liberia, have applied for membership to the WTO and are making frantic efforts to get admitted into the organization.

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