Liberia focuses on WTO accession ahead of MSME Conference

13 March 2014
ITC News

The government of Liberia is set to launch a National Trade Policy and National Export Strategy next month with support from the International Trade Centre (ITC). This is in preparation for the West African country's bid to accede to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Ahead of next month's Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Conference in Monrovia, to be held from 29-30 April 2014, the Government of Liberia is partnering with ITC to redraft the National Trade Policy and finalize the National Export Strategy. ITC is also providing assistance to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in drafting the initial goods and services offers for later this year with the aim of Liberia becoming a member of the WTO, a process that began in 2007.

'Helping Liberia to accede is just the first step,' said ITC's Acting Deputy Executive Director Ashish Shah during a meeting with Liberia's Assistant Minister for Commerce and Trade Stephen Marvie, Jr. 'The implementation of the commitments that have been taken is also a very important part of the journey. There are many other countries that have tread the same path before Liberia, and that's what ITC brings to the table: best practices from many different countries that have been through the process.'

ITC also works with countries after their WTO accession to facilitate private-sector involvement in trade opportunities, Mr. Shah added.

The preparation of the National Export Strategy has been a critical step in Liberia's efforts to develop and diversify its exports. Mr. Marvie confirmed that they were consulting with donors in the country to mobilize resources for the implementation of the strategy, and he called on ITC's support throughout the process.

ITC provides updated information on trade rules and their commercial implications and offers advisory services on the multilateral trading system. The organization collaborates with SMEs to articulate their interests to trade negotiators and provides training on the use of trade and tariff databases. ITC also facilitates dialogue between public and private-sector stakeholders to ensure that all viewpoints are taken into consideration.

'In the process of accession, ITC has been a very critical partner, supporting us in services and identifying sectors to work on,' Mr. Marvie said.

He added that Liberia is working towards regional integration but it remains the only country in the region that is not a member of the WTO. He requested ITC's continued assistance in Liberia's accession efforts and its goal of regional economic integration.

ITC Executive Director Arancha González will serve as a panellist at next month's MSME Conference, which is expected to be attended by Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, representatives of business organisations, donors and ministers.