Liberia and the United Kingdom this week ended a One-Day Liberia-UK Trade and Investment Forum.
The Forum held at the Monrovia City Hall Tuesday, was organized by the National Investment Commission in collaboration with the British Embassy in Monrovia (through its Foreign Commonwealth Office) and Developing Market Associates, a leading investment promotion firm for sovereign governments worldwide.
The Forum was held under the theme: “Investment Opportunities in Liberia: Towards Inclusive Growth and Economic Diversification”
The Liberian Leader, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf speaking at the Forum, described it as an opportunity for Liberia to reengage the international business community for business prospects.
President Sirleaf said the Forum was organized to allow the government to layout its economic agenda in its post health crisis environment, highlight opportunities for foreign investors, and reinforce international interest in the country.
She asserted that the harsh realities of global economy have compelled Liberia to recalibrate the economic focus of the country away from the previous.
“Our government is keen on adopting an Economic Diversification Policy which I believe will serve as a cushion for both internal and external shocks”, the Liberian Leader asserted.
For his part, the British Ambassador to Liberia, David Belgrove said the holding of the Meeting in Monrovia is indicative of Liberia’s desire to ensure that the climate of business in the country is attractive.
Ambassador Belgrove told Journalists the Forum provided an opportunity for Liberia to inform would-be investors about the country’s potentials when it comes to investment.
He noted that through the Forum, would-be investors have gotten a clear understanding of the outlook of the investment climate in Liberia and the areas government wants to improve through foreign investments.
Also speaking during a Press Briefing at the close of the Forum, the Chief Executive Officer of Developing Markets Associates, Atam Sandhu said the Forum is Liberia’s first ever international in-country Forum which is aimed at building on the success of previous Meetings at the same time reflecting on Liberia’s growth in business in recent years.
Mr. Sandhu indicated that Liberia is known for its potential in areas such as extractive industries where the country has its wealth of natural resources.
He said the Forum was also aimed at broadening economic partnerships with the international investment community as well as ties between Liberia and the United Kingdom key economic sectors.
The One-Day Liberia-UK Trade and Investment Forum held in Monrovia is intended to develop, coordinate and deliver a new trade and investment policy to promote UK business across the globe.
It also focused on developing and negotiating free trade agreements and market access deals with non-EU countries, negotiating plurilateral trade deals (focused on specific sectors or products), providing operational support for exports and facilitating inward and outward investments.
The Forum highlighted the major business sectors of the Liberian economy: Agriculture, Energy & Mining, Health, and Infrastructure & Tourism.
It provided a unique opportunity for investors and potential investors to gain an in-depth knowledge of the significant investment prospects available in Liberia.
For international investors and business leaders, the Forum offered them the chance to engage government ministers, other senior officials and private sector participants at a strategic level.
With the country recovering from the twin shocks of Ebola and sharp decline in world commodity prices, which led to some business closures, massive job losses and reduction in revenues, the need for the Liberian government to re-engage investors and partners is imperative.
With about 20-30 international investors attending, the Forum seeks to meet its objective of creating the platform for Liberia to layout its economic agenda and highlight opportunities for international investors.
It also seeks to initiate vigorous, constructive dialogue between would-be investors and the government, promote Liberia’s investment competitiveness on the international stage, enhance reinforcement of existing interest in Liberia prior to the Ebola outbreak, and ensure value addition to Liberia’s raw materials.
The Forum also created opportunities for follow-ups, especially for MSMEs and other long-term bilateral investments.
The Forum was sponsored by ARCELOR MITTAL, APM TERMINALS, Dawnus international, HummingBird, Bollore Equatorial Palm Oil among others.