The US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has called on the Liberian Government to ratify its accession for membership reached nearly 10 years ago with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and trade partners for the economic benefit of the country.
A press release from the US Embassy over the weekend quoted Thomas-Greenfield as saying Liberia is the only ECOWAS country that has yet to become a WTO member, placing it at an economic disadvantage compared to its neighbors both for regional and international trade.
She said membership to the WTO will provide a foundation for establishing the rules-based system for growing the economy, attracting foreign investment, and securing that future for the country’s youth.
The US diplomat indicated that membership by itself will not automatically create a dynamic economy, but added that it will, however, reduce impediments to trade that will help attract new investment and allow entrepreneurs, innovators and efficient producers to flourish.
According to the US Assistant Secretary of State, what is in it for the average Liberian is more jobs generated through improved transparency, a more predictable business environment, and new investment.
Other benefits are enhanced export opportunities for Liberian products, lower prices at the store and improved access to services, Thomas-Greenfield noted.
She added: “When Liberia joins the WTO, it will commit to establishing predictable tariff rates, ensuring transparency in the publication and enactment of laws, and adherence to an enforceable mechanism for resolving disputes.”
The American official stated that Liberia’s accession would also give it a voice at the WTO table tonegotiate tariff rates on goods and services, which can lead to substantial cost savings on some imported goods.
Thomas-Greenfield said membership will open the door for the expansion of the telecom sector in Liberia, and will allow international banks to operate within its borders.
“This will create new jobs, attract new investment, and bring in new financing options for Liberian companies and Liberia may also be able to respond to the dearth of physicians and other healthcare professionals through reciprocity agreements,” she pointed out.
She said it is incumbent upon the lower House to ratify Liberia’s WTO accession agreement by June 15 and secure the country’s rightful place among the world’s trading nations.