A forum intended to develop, coordinate and deliver a new trade and investment policy to promote United Kingdom’s business across the globe, took place recently in Monrovia.
The one-day Liberia-UK Trade and Investment forum was held under the theme: “Investment Opportunities in Liberia: Towards Inclusive Growth and Economic Diversification” and was organized by the National Investment Commission in collaboration with the British Embassy in Monrovia through its Foreign Commonwealth Office.
Developing Market Associates, a leading investment promotion firm for sovereign governments worldwide focused on developing and negotiating free trade agreements and market access with non-EU countries, negotiating bilateral trade agreements and providing operational support for exports.
The forum highlighted the major business sectors of the Liberian economy: agriculture, energy and mining, health, infrastructure and tourism, and also provided an opportunity for investors and potential investors to gain an in-depth knowledge of the significant investment prospects available in Liberia.
For international investors and business leaders, the forum offered them the chance to engage government ministers and other senior officials and private sector participants at a strategic level.
With the country recovering from the twin shocks of Ebola and sharp decline in world commodity prices, which led to some business closures, massive job losses and reduction in revenues, the need for the Liberian government to re-engage investors and partners is imperative.
With about 20-30 international investors attending, the forum sought to meet its objective of creating the platform for Liberia to lay-out its economic agenda and highlight opportunities for international investors.
It also initiated vigorous, constructive dialogue between would-be investors and the governments, promote Liberia’s investment competitiveness on the international stage, enhance reinforcement of existing interest in Liberia prior to the Ebola outbreak, and ensure value addition to Liberia’s raw materials.
British Ambassador to Liberia David Belgrove said the forum was indicative of Liberia’s desire to ensure that the business climate in the country is attractive.
Ambassador Belgrove noted that through the forum, would-be investors received a clear understanding of the outlook of the investment climate in Liberia and the areas government wants to improve through foreign investments.
He said the diversification in the investment focus of Liberia would likely benefit many people because it created opportunities including eight Liberians who had the opportunity of studying different fields of interests in the United Kingdom.
He assured the gathering that the British Government would cooperate and collaborate with sub-Saharan African countries, including Liberia, in support of the growth of their economies.
The Chief Executive Officer of Developing Markets Associates, Atam Sandhu, said the forum is Liberia’s first ever international in-country forum aimed at building on the success of previous meetings that also reflected on the country’s growth in business in recent years.
Mr. Sandhu indicated that Liberia “is known for its potential in areas such as extractive industries where the country has its wealth of natural resources.”
He said the forum aimed at broadening economic partnerships with the international investment community as well as ties between Liberia and the United Kingdom in key economic sectors.
For her part, NIC Chairperson Etmonia Tarpeh said the government will continue to support its economic policy with a plan to diversify investment opportunities that would focus on the agricultural sector.
She assured the gathering that Liberia was now ready for business and as such, all those wishing to invest in the country should be assured that the National Investment Commission (NIC) is ready to support them.
The forum was sponsored by ArcelorMittal Liberia, APM Terminals, Dawnus International, Humming Bird, Bollore, Equatorial Palm Oil, among others.