Commerce, LRA Begin ‘National Single Window’ Program

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The Ministry of Commerce & Industry (MOCI) and Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), have begun a two-day workshop for the public and private sector policy makers and high-level technicians to assist Liberia towards the establishment of a national single window system.

A single window platform is meant to handle the exchange of trade information between traders and government agencies, and to particularly reduce the time it takes to process trade transactions between government agencies.

Frantz Che Sawyer, acting Minister of Commerce and Industry, who was a proxy for Minister Addy at the workshop held at a local resort yesterday, said the two-day workshop is aimed at bringing to fruition benefits of Liberia’s accession to the World Trade Organization, which was ratified by the National Legislature two days ago.

“In line with Liberia’s WTO post accession plan, the government has earmarked to put in place a single window platform to address the barriers to trade, reduce paperwork and improve on its overall doing business program.

“We aim to reduce the time and documents to import and export, as well as improve other horizontal processes such as immigration, labor permits and the general issuance of licenses,” Minister Sawyer said.

He said a fully functional single window platform normally facilitates trade by offering numerous opportunities including consulting trade information online like tariff search, arrived vessels, regulatory, submit trade documents and track the status of trade transactions.

“Some benefits of the single window platform include paying online through e-payment facilities using acceptable cards, access help-desk, trouble tickets and other services for registered users; and quickly reference important information on different government agencies involved in trade matters, as well as links to their websites through a convenient hub,” he added.

Minister Sawyer urged Liberian stakeholders participating in the workshop to demonstrate practical options for the country’s single window platform, which will offer more to the public and private sectors.

He added: “Today’s initiative builds on the earlier work done by the IFC in the first quarter of the year regarding the WTO trade facilitation agreement. We had a successful stakeholder engagement assessment mission, which was coordinated with the trade support institutions and private sector players.”

The national single window workshop brought together representatives from various entities including Liberia Chamber of Commerce, Liberia Business Association, the Fula Business Community, University of Liberia, Liberia Revenue Authority, and Ministry of Commerce and Industry among others.
Stephen Marvie, Deputy Minister designate for Commerce and Trade Services, said considering the ongoing facilitation of trade in Liberia, there is a need to improve on the current infrastructure, setup, processes and procedure.

“Fortunately for us, we were able to join the WTO fully by ratifying the accession package. There is an agreement called Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) that Liberia is expected to ratify soon, and will also engage into all things required. We also need to look at Liberia’s time of export, which takes 15 days, and 17 days to import, while other countries take 8 days to export,” Minister Marvie said.

He said Liberia targets to beat the average and not to be at the levels of 15 and 17 days, adding that: “This is why we need to work quickly to ensure that we meet these standards.”

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