Dutch Foreign Trade Minister Expresses Need for Urgent Investments in Ebola Affected Countries

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The Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, Lilianne Ploumen has underscored the need for urgent investment in West African countries affected by the deadly Ebola.

“To be able to look beyond Ebola, investments are urgently needed,” said Minister Ploumen at the head of a delegation comprising Dutch companies and officials of Dutch Foreign Trade Ministry, to visit Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

According to the Minister, the Ebola outbreak in the region is one of the most disastrous situations the world has witnessed; stressing that while impressive reports are emerging from the affected countries the world must collaborate to eliminate the virus itself.

She said while in the process of eliminating, it is also important to restore the impressive economic growth experienced before the outbreak, and doing that requires building communities and their economic structures.

To achieve these goals, Minister Ploumen said it requires cooperation between not only governments but also between private sectors and civil society actors.

She said as the first economic mission to the region since the emergence of Ebola, there are impressive results being accomplished with Liberia previously declared free of the virus though it has resurfaced.

In an optimistic tone, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation assured that the knowledge, services and products that Dutch companies can provide will contribute to the much-needed development of local communities.

She further acknowledged that deploying Dutch expertise can be mutually beneficial while partnerships and investment – based on the principles of corporate social responsibility – are key to recovery and sustainable social economic development.

She expressed delight that over 30 companies and several NGOs are participating in the mission, furthering that it underlines the Netherlands’ commitment to Ebola affected countries, both morally and economically.

She recalled that during heat of the Ebola crisis the Netherlands provided support by deploying the Dutch Navy support ship, HNLMS Karel Doorman, containing food and other essential supplies which, according to her, was the largest logistics operation for an EU relief operation.

Meanwhile, World Bank revised reports on GDPs of the three affected countries indicate that Liberia’s 2.2 percent GDP during the crisis rose to 2.5 percent in October of 2014 below the 5.9 growth during pre-Ebola crisis.

Sierra Leone rose from 4.0 percent to 8.0 percent in October of 2014 below 11.3 percent in pre-crisis while Guinea from 0.5 percent rose to 2.4 percent in October of 2014 below 4.5 percent pre-crisis.

The World Bank is also projecting negative growth for 2015 of -0.2 percent in Guinea down from pre-crisis estimates of 43 percent and 2.0 percent in October, -2.0 percent in Sierra Leone down from 8.9 percent and 7.7 percent in October, and growth estimate of 3.0 percent increase from 1.0 percent in October for Liberia, though still less than half the pre-crisis estimate of 6.8 percent.

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