Liberia’s Accession new kid of the WTO Block

2 Gen

 

Liberia had their President, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf camped in Nairobi for almost a week in the rigorous await of the new birth. A Namibian proverb says ‘From Little date seeds, great things are born’. With this backdrop the 16th of December 2015 will be etched in anals of history of the People of Liberia in the words of Madam President Sirleaf “This marks a historic mLiberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf arrives in the company of Kenya's Vice President William Ruto (R) to attend the "The International Forum on Women in Business" ahead of the World Trade organization (WTO) Summit in capital Nairobi December 14, 2015. REUTERS/Noor Khamisilestone in Liberia’s joining of transformation

Liberia started their journey to World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2007 here it was rigorous effort back and forth movements from Geneva the Headquarters of WTO and Monrovia. Liberia’s team led by their Trade Minister Axel Addy was not an easy journey. I had an opportunity to attend the Liberian reception and from the conversations gathered it was a great win for the team of negotiators.I later had a chance to talk to the Assistant minister of Trade Stephen Marvie, Jr “The accession will compel Liberia to put systems of transparency through this process” Adding that they would stand to gain more in terms of investment for the nation.

True to the word of the Assistant Minister of trade Steve, European Union and Liberia’s Trade Minister Axel signed a deal that would increase the level of market access for European Union (EU) goods and services to the Liberian market. According to EU trade with Liberia is at 0.03% of its total trade value with EU importing from Liberia half a billion Euros in 2013.

EU Ambassador to the WTO Angelos Pangratis acknowledged that though Liberia had gone through a devastating public health challenge of Ebola, noting that Liberia had made remarkable progress in preparing for WTO entry “We are looking forward to rewarding Liberia’s efforts and welcoming the country in the WTO family

President Sirleaf in her speech at the WTO added “Liberia is accepted into the World Trade Organisation family we are optimistic that this council meeting is poised to impact global trade to strengthen the rule based multilateral trading systems to ensure the less developed nations of the world are getting a better deal by removal of barriers which will foster a larger percentage of global trade

During her stay in Kenya the Liberian President who is the first and only woman President in Africa was bestowed the honour of Chief of the order of the Golden Heart by host President Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenyatta lauded Liberia’s entry to WTO “I am pleased that this decision was taken here in Nairobi, on African soil. Without a doubt, WTO membership carries considerable gains and benefits. Liberia’s Accession Package provides a platform for continuing domestic reforms and should inspire other African countries in their domestic measures”.

Other gains for Liberia joining the WTO includes a faster integration into the West African regional bloc Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS). The Assistant Trade Minister Steve Marvie noted “Through WTO Liberia will now integrate in the regional bloc ECOWAS forcing it to fast track the integration process” adding “We will enjoy the Extended tariff on Products ETP once we migrate to EcowasLiberia joins World trade organization as the 163th nation and the 35th Least Developed Country in WTO.

My small interactions with President Sirleaf came out as humble in nature yet stern and firm. With a small bow she acknowledged the delegations of the various countries that stretched out to meet her after the Accession ceremony. I also noted Liberia is rather a unique country compared to Kenya, with a population of 4.5Million people this means the whole country could easily fit into Kenya’s capital City Nairobi. Their currency is in dollars and minimum wage for their population is $50-$70 US Dollars. If you are white person you cannot get a nationality one has to be African-Black in order to qualify for citizenship.

Being Sirleaf’s last term as President I am interested to know the outcome of the next election in 2017.

 

Winnie Kamau
Data Journalist,
Media Relations Consultant.

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