The EU and Liberia yesterday signed a deal concluding their bilateral negotiations on Liberia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Accession to the WTO is expected to make a lasting contribution to the process of economic reform and sustainable development in Liberia.
As a Least Developed Country, (LDC), all of Liberia’s products (except arms) enjoy duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market. Trade between the EU and Liberia will be soon also governed by the Economic Partnership Agreement that the EU has initialed with 16 West African states last year.
The bilateral deal – signed by EU Ambassador to the WTO Angelos Pangratis and Liberia’s Minister for Commerce and Industry Axel M. Addy – defines the level of market access that Liberia will grant to EU goods and services in the WTO. These commitments will be then embodied in the future Protocol of Accession of Liberia to the WTO, a statement from the EU said.
“Today’s signature is a milestone in Liberia’s WTO accession process and an important step towards fostering our economic relations,” said Angelos Pangratis, EU Ambassador to the WTO. “Against the background of the devastating public health challenge of Ebola Liberia has made remarkable progress in preparing for WTO entry and we are looking forward to rewarding Liberia’s efforts and welcoming the country into the WTO family very soon.”
The Republic of Liberia applied for WTO membership in mid-2007. The accession talks started half a year later with the establishment of a dedicated Working Party made of interested WTO members.
In order to join the WTO, Liberia must complete bilateral negotiations with each of them and obtain the endorsement of the entire Working Party.
Trade flows between the EU and Liberia are small but balanced. From an EU perspective, trade with Liberia represents just 0.03 percent of its total trade value. The EU imports from Liberia, worth half a billion euros in 2013, amount, however, to as much as over 40 % of Liberia’s total goods’ exports.