MOCI, LRA, Partners Commence Liberia’s WTO Post Accession Strategy

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The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) and Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), in collaboration with a high-level delegation from the World Trade Organization (WTO) have commenced the work of identifying Liberia’s Post Accession Plan to promote trade facilitation, customs reforms and total investment.

Speaking yesterday at the opening of a three-day workshop held at a local resort in Monrovia, Commerce Minister Axel M. Addy said Liberia has remained committed to the multilateral trading system throughout the accession and the post-accession process, which was recently approved.

“We have emerged from the accession process hopeful and assured of the confidence placed in the value of the Multilateral Trading System, which will lead to critical reforms, facilitate the business environment and also lead to a fair and healthy competition driving innovation and economic diversification,” said Minister Addy, who is also Liberia’s chief negotiator during the WTO accession engagements.

Upon the instruction of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, he explained, the negotiating team of the government strategically used Liberia’s accession negotiations as an instrument for domestic reforms, designed for post-conflict reconstruction, national reconciliation, and to integrate Liberia into the global economy.

“Importantly,” he said, “the Liberian accession has not been treated as an isolated process; instead the process is linked to critical domestic reforms and the Agenda for Transformation. This has been of major importance and continues to be just as important also for post accession, since only through an inclusive process the full economic potential of WTO membership can be achieved.”

Minister Addy also welcomed Dr. Juneyoung Lee and Ms. Anna Varyanik, Secretary and Co-Secretary of Liberia’s working party core representatives of the WTO Secretariat–who are here (in Liberia) for the very first time.

He said by committing to the principles of non-discrimination, openness, predictability, transparency and competitiveness, WTO membership will be a path towards a more prosperous Liberia making it cheaper to do business.

The Commerce Minister said the WTO membership enables Liberia to lock in market-oriented reforms domestically and to have credible enforcement mechanisms that otherwise could become subject to reversals under pressure by special interest groups. He stressed that WTO membership matters for
Liberia and has tremendous potential because “our country’s rules and laws will be approximated to international standards and likewise will enshrine the rule of law.”

He said, “I am also particularly honored to have the support of our President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and would like to thank her for her strong leadership in paving the way for fast-tracking the process and enabling us to keep momentum and stay committed during some most difficult times.”

With great excitement, Min. Addy said, “we were able to deposit the ‘Instrument of Acceptance’ at the WTO on the same day. I am absolutely pleased to inform you that with this deposit Liberia’s final hurdle for full-fledged WTO membership is removed and we are now poised to become the 163rd member of the World Trade Organization.”

The Minister also hailed Margibi Senator Jim Tornonlah, Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Industry; Mr. Roland Walta Morris, Intellectual Property Advisor and Legislative Liaison at the Ministry of Commerce; and Stephen Marvie, Deputy Minister for Trade Services, for their leadership in working with the Legislature to make sure the protocol is duly organized.

Also speaking, LRA Chair, Madam Elfrieda S. Tamba, reaffirmed the government’s commitment in working with all stakeholders in the implementation of the commitment made to the World Trade organization (WTO).

“Customs is a core component of the trade facilitation chain and we at the LRA recognize the significance of this responsibility. This recognition is embedded in both our mission and vision statements. We hope that Liberia and all implementing stakeholders will maintain the necessary support to facilitate the achievement of our action plan,” she said.

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