10 May 2017

Liberia: Guinea Ships Rubber Through Monrovia

Nimba County District #8 Representative Larry P. Younquoi last last Thursday complained to House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay of the Executive Branch of government's unilateral decision to allow a rubber company from neighboring Guinea to use the Freeport of Monrovia to export its processed rubber to other countries without the consent of the Legislature, in violation of Article 32 (f) and (g) of the Constitution.

This act, if confirmed, labels the Legislature as a 'toothless bulldog' in the exercise of its oversight responsibility which is gradually becoming noticeable with multiple evidences of an 'exclusion' of the House of Representatives and Senate by the Executive Branch from its role in some national issues, lawmakers worry.

In many cases since 2006, agents of the Executive Branch argued that the "Legislature should know that it has an Executive invented-and-restricted oversight role, and also has every disincentive not to annoy the President."

Rep. Younquoi argued that for Guinea to ship rubber through Liberia without the approval of the law is an "unfair, autocratic and unconstitutional decision" that should be investigated.

According to a letter from Rep. Younquoi, the rubber company is Soguipah, located in Diekè, Guinea 1100 kilometers from Conakry and close to the Liberian border. It has a total of 9000 hectares planted. The factory produces more than 13,000 metric tons of natural rubber per year.

"Mr. Speaker and distinguished colleagues, the need for such investigation cannot be overemphasized as it has both economic and internal security concerns. For instance, if international trade with Guinea, as such, is confirmed, the Legislature needs to be abreast of it, and have the instrument binding the two countries ratified. Secondly, such huge international transaction carries with it security concerns especially considering the current security situation in the world," Rep. Younquoi wrote.

"Besides, stakeholders need to know the condition under which this is being carried out. For instance, there are many unanswered questions in the wake of such arrangement. Firstly, which of the two countries will the export be attributed to? Secondly, how much is being paid to Liberia for the use of its road and port? How much customs duty and other fees have been accrued thus far since the commencement of the exercise?" Younquoi asked in the letter.

However, after lengthy discussions, it was agreed that the House Leadership take heed of the 'sensitive international matter' and report accordingly.

Up to press time last night, it was not clear whether the Ministries of Commerce and Finance or any other government agency was aware of the Guinean trade link at the port of Monrovia since the matter surfaced at the legislature.

However, reports said the House leadership is handling the "misunderstanding" between the two branches, because it involves two countries that are members of the Mano River Union (MRU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

A consignment of the rubber from Conakry being shipped via Monrovia

Meanwhile, according to research, an international sourcing company, Tropicore, is responsible for marketing and exporting the Soguipah rubber from Guinea through Liberia.

"Tropicore develops long term relationships with a few first class producers. We act as their commercial representative agent on the international market. We have exclusive long term agreements with our suppliers who became, over the years, more partners than suppliers," it said.

"Tropicore commercializes various grades of natural rubber such as TSR10, TSR20, RSS1, RSS3, Thin Brown Crepes and RSS Cuttings."

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