“We Have Businesses Set Aside Strictly For Liberians”

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As the government concludes a three-day conference to identify and support Liberia’s Post Accession plan to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Minister of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), Axel M. Addy has disclosed that a number of businesses have been set aside strictly for Liberian owned businesses.

Minister Addy, Liberia’s chief negotiator in the ongoing WTO Liberia Post Accession Plan, made the disclosure yesterday at a special press stakeout held at a local resort in Monrovia.

“There has been a serious concern from Liberia about the size of the economy and business set aside for Liberian owned businesses,” Minister Addy said. “Liberia’s package has already taken that into consideration in Liberia’s package and the people of Liberia can be assured.

“Coalition building can also help small countries increase their bargaining power in negotiations or in creating new trade rules,” he said.

Minister Addy indicated that there are horizontal packages that provide protection for citizens, investments, and domestic inventory among others, which he attributed to the delay in becoming a member of the WTO, including other countries.

According to him, the three-day conference, which brought together international delegates, is important as it allows stakeholders to get the complete understanding of the implication of the commitment.

“There have been stakeholder meetings around the WTO’s accession process since 2007 and sometimes specific sector meetings like the private sector that today resulted into Liberia being a member of the WTO. Liberia is already a market-based, liberalized economy.

“By joining the WTO, small countries enjoy the benefits that all WTO members grant to each other, based on principles of non-discrimination and transparency,” he said.

According to him, small countries can participate fully in the multilateral trading system as decisions are made by consensus and each member has an equal right to challenge the practices of other members in the WTO dispute settlement procedures.

He said the major benefit of the WTO accession process itself is that it provides an acceding government with a powerful instrument for domestic reforms to accelerate growth, modernization, strengthen institutional capacity and enshrine the rule of law.

“Through accelerated growth and development, government’s efforts at reducing poverty can be strengthened. WTO membership is an investment into future competitiveness – it can serve as a tool to attract domestic and foreign investment to diversify local production base and expand its supply capacity.
Legally binding WTO commitments help improve investor confidence and the domestic environment for doing business,” Minister Addy added.

“Modernization through domestic reforms undertaken in the process of accession as well as transparency and predictability of the rules-based multilateral trading system can help create a competitive and favorable business environment for all private sector operators, domestic and foreign. Export-oriented operators can also benefit from access to the markets of all WTO members on a most-favored nation (MFN) basis. The greatest benefits of accession arguably go to SMEs and consumers, who are typically not able to lobby/negotiate on their own behalf.

“Telecommunications are essential for producing and distributing goods and services,” he said. “Transport services contribute to the efficient distribution of goods within a country and are particularly important for international trade. Efficient business services reduce transaction costs and increase productivity. Education services are necessary to build up the stock of human capital. Distribution services connect producers and consumers and influence the efficiency with which resources are allocated. Tourism is appropriate for increase in consumer spending, job creation and overall economic growth.”

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