Liberia gets support on its Accession Working Party Meeting in Geneva
Geneva, Switzerland July 16, 2021 Liberia has garnered overwhelming support at the country’s first meeting of the Working Party on its Accession in Geneva, Switzerland for least-developed countries, due to a set of new guidelines developed recently for LCDs.
A high power Liberian delegation headed by Liberia’s Deputy Commerce Minister Aletha Browne Cooper presented Liberia’s case in a well articulated manner to the delight of the WTO Accession committee and other observers.
The Liberian delegation included Deputy Commerce Minister Aletha Browne Cooper and head of delegation, Deputy Foreign Minister Sando Wayne, Deputy Finance Minister James Kollie, Assistant Commerce Minister Stepehn Marvie and Assistant Finance Minister Decontee King Sackie.
Other members of the delegation are; the Executive Director of the National Investment Commission Ciata Bishop, Consultant at the Ministry of Agriculture Arthur Summerville, Consultant on WTO at the Commerce Ministry Amin Modad, Ministry of Finance Analyst Del-Francis Wreh and Assistant Customs Commissioner William Buku.
Ambassador Mckinley Thomas Liberia’s Ambassador to France and Mr. Isaac C. Yeah, Minister Counselor for Press and Public Affairs at the Liberian Embassy in Paris, France were also part of the Liberian delegation in Geneva, Switzerland.
The delegations held series of brainstorming and technical sessions prior to meeting the Accession Committee.
Deputy Commerce Minister Aletha Browne Cooper said that after a period of civil conflict that lasted for 14 years, Liberia finally achieved peace in 2003, adding that the International Monetary Fund had calculated Liberia’s per capita GDP at $456 for 2011 — the second lowest of 183 countries measured, and pointed to a very high unemployment rate and the limited domestic market.
Mrs. Browne Cooper said Liberia was undergoing economic transformation, and that efforts to accede to the WTO would act as a catalyst for making and locking in difficult but positive reforms.
At the first meeting of the Working Party on the Accession of Liberia held on 11 July 2012, many WTO members said that the new accession guidelines for least-developed countries (LDCs) would help facilitate Liberia’s membership negotiations.
The Chairman of the WTO Accession Committee for Least Developed Countries, Amb. Joakim Reiter of Sweden said that members are aware of the challenges faced by Liberia in acceding to the WTO in the light of its situation as a Least Developed Country coming out of a long period of strife.
Amb. Reiter pledged to work towards accelerating the accession process, and expressed the hope that trade cooperation would bring peace and stability to the country.
Many members supported the early accession of Liberia to the WTO, and expected that this would be facilitated by the new accession guidelines for Least Developed Countries to be adopted by the General Council later this month.
The United States pledged its maximum effort to assist in the accession process. It said that Liberia’s economic reforms have created an “Open for Business” sign for foreign investors. The European Union for its part said the accession process will help Liberia modernize its economy, and pledged technical assistance to Liberia’s accession process
The Japanese in their remarks said accession will enable Liberia to integrate itself into the multilateral trading system and assist domestic growth. Speaking on behalf of the Least Developed Countries, Haiti expressed the hope that the new accession guidelines would facilitate the process for Liberia.
Lesotho, on behalf of the African Group, urged members to be considerate and approach with due sensitivity the “unique case” of Liberia, Adding that members should not hamper regional integration efforts in Africa. Nigeria said it is optimistic that Liberia can join before its five-year target.
India, China, Yemen and Australia called on members to take a flexible approach to Liberia, adding that this would be a test for the new accession guidelines for Least Developed Countries (LDCs)
The Working Group conducted its first reading of Liberia’s 125-page Memorandum on the Foreign Trade Regime. It also considered Liberia’s answers to 91 questions posed in advance of the meeting, with some members, notably the United States and the European Union, asking follow-up questions.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the Chairman said the first meeting of the Working Party had been “useful, efficient and business-like”. He urged Liberia to submit its goods and services draft schedules of commitments as soon as possible, and to keep members informed of legislative work related to its accession.
Amb. Reiter called on Liberia and members to intensify bilateral contacts, and for members to submit further questions by 10 August 2012. He hoped to organize the next meeting as soon as possible, but this would depend on inputs from Liberia and the members.
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