The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Wilson K. Tarpeh, has praised the partnership between Liberia and the European Union (EU), which has also been instrumental in facilitating Liberia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Minister Tarpeh outlined the five priority areas of intervention of the ministry, including food standards (Import/Export); Accountability; Economic Diversification; Empowerment and development of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Improving the Import Process.
Tarpeh assured partners of government’s commitment to creating the conditions for economic growth through stability and rule of law, and also through specific support initiatives, such as the recently launched Liberian Business Hub, and the establishment of the SMEs Fund.
Speaking at the sixth edition of the EU-Liberia dialogue meeting held in Monrovia recently, Tarpeh said that the government will support local businesses and investments, limiting foreign investments to sectors where the local supply cannot meet the local demand.
He expressed concerns that the support to agriculture provided by international partners during the post-conflict period has not produced the expected results, especially in terms of creating employment opportunities for the 70% of Liberians below 40 years of age.
The Chair of the National Investment Commission, Quinton A. Tunis, announced the creation of a National Investment Fund to finance pre-feasibility and feasibility studies in all the priority sectors of the current administration in order to have a set of bankable projects to be presented to prospective investors.
Tunis also expressed frustration with some foreign investors, who he said despite benefiting from specific incentives, are not living up to their commitment to employ local workforce.
He announced that work is ongoing for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Youth and Sports to facilitate internships for graduates of vocational training schools, as well as revive the Market Reform Committee to monitor doing business indicators in the country.
The EU encouraged Liberia to continue paying special attention to stability and rule of law to maintain the presence of the investors already on the ground, and to attract fresh capitals.
The EU and Liberia agreed to remain focused, and positively engaged on the dialogue for an enhanced partnership, while reaffirming their desires to support the regular exchange of views and expressed the need to have two dialogues yearly.
According to a statement, the EU spoke of specific issues that will need re-visitation to gather details in the next political dialogue.
The seventh annual EU-Liberia Political Dialogue, the statement said, will take place in February 2019, while the eighth will most probably take place in July the same year, shortly after the end of the African Union Summit.