Liberia, EU End Political Dialogue

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Liberian and EU officials at the end of the dialogue in Monrovia

-Signs US$4M grant to strengthen Liberia’s forestry sector

The sixth political dialogue between the Government of Liberia (GoL) and the European Union (EU), which was held last Thursday, July 12, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has ended in Monrovia, highlighting Liberia’s legislative agenda, human rights issues, emerging challenges of Brexit and the “Pro-Poor Agenda” for prosperity and development.

The discussion also focused on the state of the economy, the 2018/2019 national budget and what government can do to raise needed revenue for its “Pro-Poor Agenda” programs and creating a condition for economic growth, sustainable exploitation of national resources and several other issues affecting the government’s programs.

Ambassador Hélène Cavé headed the EU delegation, while the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was led by Minister Gbehzongar M. Findley.

During the meeting, Minister of Finance Samuel Tweah and Ambassador Cavé affixed their signatures to a US$4 million grant intended to strengthen Liberia’s forestry sector.

But, prior to the signing of the US$4 million grant, the two countries also signed another agreement called the “Aide Memoire document” through the  Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), to improve Forest Governance and ensure that all timber and timber products destined for the EU market from a partner country comply with the laws of that country.

The grant, according to Ambassador Cavé, will be used for capacity building support and also intended for Liberia to have its Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) license.

FLEGT license is a certificate which, when obtained, will ensure that the country independently certificate its exported timbers to the European market, Ambassador Cavé said at the sixth EU-Liberia political dialogue meeting in Monrovia.

Ambassador Cavé said the grant was a result of a long meeting of partners held  with Liberia about the forestry sector.

“We currently have a trade agreement with Liberia and one of the aims is to assist the country. Liberia will see the impact when they export certified high valuable wood to the EU,” said Madam Cavé.

Minister Findley also praised the EU delegation for their support, adding that the Government of Liberia will continue to have discussions with them to improve the lives of the ordinary people in the country.

“President George Manneh Weah is committed to improving the lives of the Liberian people and this platform sets the basis for Liberia and EU to work together,” Minister Findley said.

Minister Samuel Tweah added that the government is looking forward to seeing the impact of the grant, which he said will help move the country’s macro-economy in the right direction.

“All of these measures are aimed towards the medium and long-term restoration of the Liberian economy,” Minister Tweah said, noting that the country depends on the EU as one of its strongest partners in development.

“The challenges the Liberian economy is faced with today are domestic export competitiveness and domestic productive competitiveness; that is a long-term solution to our economy,” Minister Tweah said.

“These kinds of development from our partners like the EU, World Bank and all our partners help us to ensure private sector viability and this is the goal of our new development plan.”

He said that the country’s private sector needs to own the forestry space. When that happens, Minister Tweah said, it will create jobs in the country.

He said that there are so many resources in the country, but nothing is done for the economy to benefit from the resources.

For his part, Mike C. Doryen, Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), said the grant is a result of a trade agreement between Liberia and the EU.

Doyen said: “This money is to support some provisions of that trade agreement to strengthen the forestry sector.”

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