Deputy Commerce Minister for Small Business Administration Jemima Wolokollie says in order to create a level playing field in the business community, Liberian entrepreneurs must be the distributors and retailers of manufactured goods, whether produced in the country or imported from abroad.
Wolokollie made the statement yesterday at a program marking the end of a two-day workshop on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), held at a resort in Monrovia.
She believes that such venture will alleviate poverty and increase development programs.
Minister Wolokollie addressed herself to concerns that Liberian businesses have been denied over the years the numerous opportunities to compete with their foreign-owned counterparts in terms of putting imported goods on the market to satisfy consumers.
She recalled how technical barriers to trade have been a major factor that affects the improvement of Liberian entrepreneurs, and therefore wants the government to address some of the many challenges associated with the business sector.
Wolokollie spoke of the need to implement laws that would benefit Liberians and non-Liberians doing their respective businesses.
According to her, government should prioritize market women, farmers and street peddlers to import their desired commodities.
Due to these barriers, Wolokollie said business activities have over the years been hindered to the extent that the Liberianization policy has not been implemented.
She called on the World Trade Organization (WTO) to look at those barriers which have caused too many problems in the country.
“When the pro-poor or the masses are incapacitated to become self-sufficient, those well-to-do citizens will always resent the majority, because they would feel that there is no equality and transparency,” Wolokollie said.
Minister Wolokollie is one of the founding members of the Liberia Business Association (LIBA), who decided to set aside 26 businesses she believes Liberian entrepreneurs could efficiently do according to their financial standing.
Nyema Wisner, Commerce Deputy Minister, extended gratitude to the Swedish Government and National Board of Trade for their efforts and work done in ensuring that the country puts in place a relevant regulatory and legal framework of Technical Barriers to Trade.
Nyema Wisner assured the country’s commitment to comply with its obligations regarding the implementation of the Technical Barriers to Trade.
“We hope that the lessons learnt will enable our technicians and staff to effectively discharge their duties relative to the implementation of TBT measures,” he said.
Wisner said the government through the ministry is setting up a national single window platform, where anyone can obtain trade related information and documents that will be processed in time.
According to him, the seminar will further enhance institutional and human capacity development, to provide deeper understanding on the roles and responsibilities of government in ensuring effective implementation of TBT measures as enshrined in the World Trade Organization agreements.
“As a bureau responsible for supporting industrial sectors, we will encourage the private sector and other stakeholders to use relevant international standards that will support sustainable development,” Wisner said.