-Liberia’s Commerce Minister Addy asserts
The Minister of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), Axel M. Addy, says Liberia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a model for negotiation, development and partnership. Minister Addy made the statement on Tuesday at the kickoff of the ‘e-commerce MSME’ during the 11th Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Min. Addy’s address at the WTO was Liberia’s first since the nation became a member.
“Our accession served as a blueprint to implement the structural reforms needed and to ensure a predictable and transparent trading environment notably through Liberia’s WTO Post-Accession Strategy and Implementation Plan,” Minister Addy said.
Minister Addy said at the Nairobi Ministerial Conference in 2015, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf expressed optimism and unrelenting faith in the diversity, strength and core principles of the multilateral trading system.
He said Liberia remains grateful to the EIF, ITC, UNCTAD and the WTO “for their support in our journey towards inclusive economic transformation.”
During the Conference, Minister Addy said Liberia joined Afghanistan, Comoros, Somalia, South Sudan, Timor-Leste and Yemen to launch the ‘g7+ Accessions Group’ to ensure continued partnership and faster integration for fragile and conflict affected states in international trade.
He highlighted Liberia’s support for South Sudan’s application for observer status at the WTO.
Minister Addy said, “Today, we find the multilateral trading system under threat. As such, Liberia associates itself with the Joint Declaration on the Multilateral Trading System and also supports the Joint Declaration on Trade and Women Empowerment.”
He continued: “Today, too many of our citizens live in realities of hopelessness and indignity. What we as a body have negotiated into trade rules based on consensus meant to transform those realities, has not translated into a realization of inclusive prosperity for all.”
In this vein, he said, the situation “challenges all of us, in a spirit of cooperation and oneness of purpose, for the sake of the bottom billion, to explore all possible opportunities of convergence not only on outstanding issues but also new realities affecting global trade.
“We must commit to finding points of convergence on outstanding DDA issues, however small they may be. If we truly aspire to go far in the right direction for a better life for all of our citizens, regardless the locations of their birth, we must commit to walking together,” Minister Addy said.
He said in a rapidly changing world, the economic order that drives our exchanges of goods and services has also evolved, “and as a body, we must commit to constructive dialogue on new issues if we are to remain relevant.”
“Our failure to do so will fail the dreams and aspirations of our citizens venturing in new frontiers with the wrong direction from the wrong authorities on global trade. To this end, my delegation welcomes the dialogue on e-commerce, MSMEs and investment facilitation,” he said.
In a few days, he said Liberians will be going to the polls to elect a new administration, the first democratic transition since 1944.
“We call on this body to support the new administration in the implementation of the WTO Post Accession Plan for the restructuring of the economy, and for inclusive growth that is more sustainable. We have come a long way in a short period of time, and it is vital that the next administration continues the process we have started,” he said.
“Today we exist in a globally connected reality, a force of our own creation, now a force of nature. No nation, absolutely, no nation can ever again exist as an island in today’s reality.”
This body (WTO), he said, is the only global structure positioned to derive rules and solutions based on consensus that can help to steer “this force of nature as a force for good.”
“To leave such a force unchecked, with no direction, is to risk a reality of an uncivilized world of survival of the fittest,” Minister Addy asserted.
“This organization, our WTO, matters more today more than it has ever mattered in the history of this organization, given our more complex interconnected world. It is therefore all of our collective responsibility to make it a true force for good, ensuring equal prosperity for all.”