Commerce and Industry Minister Axel Addy has told Liberians not to have fear about liberalizing trade and commerce in Liberia as the country is poised to accede to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Liberia through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has been making great efforts to achieve accession to the WTO, and predicated upon this WTO’s guests including Ambassador Joakim Reiter, Deputy Secretary-General for United Nations Conference for Trade and Development and chairperson of the working party, and Dr. Chiedu Osakwe, Director of Accession Division of WTO Secretariat are in the country to work out some modalities that will lead Liberia to the WTO conference that will be held in Nairobi, Kenya this December.
The conference in Kenya will be the first to be held on African soil and it is a crucial point at which Liberia’s acceptance to be a member of WTO will be made, depending on whether it will meet criteria having to do with reforms of trade laws in conformity with global standard.
Speaking on August 19 at the occasion marking the visits of the guests, Minister Addy intoned that the world is changing, and what people do anywhere now should be in conformity with global standard.
He said transformation will never take place if a country builds a fence around its borders, and if Liberia can benefit from global initiative such as the WTO, it must carry out domestic reforms of its laws and policy to reflect predictability and transparency.
Despite the open trade policy joining Liberia to the global trade community under WTO, the Minister indicated in his statement that they have negotiated and put in place mechanisms that will protect Liberians’ interest in doing business.
Elaborating further on the significance of becoming a part of WTO, the Minister said it “provides predictability” by allowing trade regulations and policies to be the same in all member countries; and that fees for transactions will be the same and transparent everywhere.
In this manner, he said it will encourage investment that will also enhance job opportunities for Liberians since investors will be able to create job opportunities.
He said in the 20 years of anarchy during which the country suffered, he envisions seeing a new Liberia like pre-war days where rule of law and accountability will be in place to regulate people’s behavior.
He indicated that setting up and implementing rules in the country will enhance vibrant private sector that will provide medical and educational services which will cause people not to seek such services outside of Liberia.
In his remarks, Ambassador Joakim Reiter, Deputy Secretary-General of United Nations Conference for Trade and Development and chairperson of the Working Party, said their visits are meant to commend Liberia’s work leading to accession to WTO.
He, however, said for membership to WTO to be successful, the country must take ownership and no one else.
He said the journey to success in Nairobi in December this year depends on reform programs Liberia will carry out in its domestic laws in conformity with global standard.
He acknowledged that while Liberia has made some tremendous progress, he also advised that the rest of the activities left should be completed in the next few months if Liberia can be successful at the WTO’s first conference on African soil.