We’re Here to Invest in Liberia Economy – Dutch Foreign Trade Minister

The head of the Dutch business delegation on a one-day visit to Liberia, has told a Liberia-Netherlands business dialogue that her investors have come to Liberia to invest in the country's economy.

Netherlands Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Minister Lilianne Ploumen disclosed Monday, July 6, 2015, that the Dutch entrepreneurs on her delegation see a lot of opportunities in working with Liberia.

She stated that when she announced her trade mission few months ago, she had hoped that she would be joined by 15 Dutch companies but reality was different as she came along with at least 30 companies' representatives.

She further stated that the entrepreneurs have not come to Liberia for a "quick wins. They are here for a long term commitment to the people and to invest in the economy of Liberia."

During the press stakeout, she disclosed that Liberia was opened for business, adding: "Business that will foster inclusive economy growth."

Included in her delegation are specialists in growing food, including vegetables, building infrastructure, managing logistics, creating health solutions and those who work with people to solve social issues.

Speaking earlier, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, lauded Honorable Ploumen for taking personal initiatives that helped to address the last wave of the deadly Ebola virus disease crisis in 2014.

Minister Ngafuan said Ms. Ploumen and her colleagues' joint letter to all their hospital administrators and heads of health services in the Netherlands, requesting for medical personnel to be sent to Ebola-affected countries, had great impact on these countries, including Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. That collaboration helped Liberian health practitioners to combat the disease and Liberia was declared Ebola-transmission free by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday, May 9, 2015.

The Liberian Foreign Minister who made the remarks on Monday, July 6, 2015, at the opening of the one-day Liberia-Netherlands Business and Investment Dialogue, held in the C. Cecil Dennis Hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also expressed excitement over the occasion.

Speaking further, the Hon. Foreign Minister said the relationship between Liberia and the Netherlands, which began as far back in the 17th Century, lasted until the turn of the 20th Century, specifically in the 1980s when Liberia became embroiled in a civil conflict that witnessed the departure of Dutch Foreign Direct Investment for the country.

He noted that because of the strong ties between both nations, the Royal Dutch Airlines–KLM–was one of the first international airlines to operate after the construction of the Roberts International Airport in the 1940s.

The Minister looked forward to a promising trade and investment between both nations and "certainly forward to a new beginning of the Netherlands-Liberia commercial and trade ties."

He assured Madam Ploumen and delegates that the Liberian Government and people value the opportunities that the trade and economic mission would bring. "We firmly believe that it will help to lay the foundation and further strengthen the economic and bilateral friendship and cooperation between our two countries and peoples. It also signals to the world that all is not lost in the Ebola-affected countries."

The Foreign Minister assured the Dutch Minister that her investors and their investments would be "fully protected" under the laws of Liberia.

Giving a historic account of the commercial relation between both nations, Mr. Isaac Wehyee Nyanabo, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Kingdom of Belgium with accreditations to the Netherlands, Luxemburg and the European Union, stated that Liberia established in 1864 its consulate and appointed H. Muller of Hendrik & Co. of Rotterdam. That effort of the Liberian government was reciprocated in 1872 by the Dutch government. It appointed Mr. MaASSCHALK of Greenville, Sinoe County, as its Consul in Liberia.

For his part, Commerce Minister Axel Addy, who made a power-point presentation on what he said was the "Liberian story," spoke about the country's commerce sector post and prior Ebola.

His presentation, according to him, was a joint effort of a team comprising members from Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance and Commerce. The other entity part of the formulation was the National Investment Commission (NIC).

He told the Dutch delegation that prior to 2014, the nation projected a GDP of over 8 percent.

He listed some of Liberia's major products to include rubber, cassava and iron ore. He, however, stated that the nation looks forward to explore other avenues.

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