Liberia Calls US$2.5bn Deal With China ‘Revolutionary’

Liberia’s Finance Minister Samuel Tweah

The Government of Liberia has described as  ‘revolutionary’ in terms of creating a prosperous platform for jobs  and infrastructural development, the US$2.5 billion “natural resources  swap” agreement it signed with the China Roads and Bridges Corporation.

The resources-for-development agreement, says Finance Minister Samuel  Tweah, is not a loan but an investment facility and financing  framework entered into under the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation  (FOCAC) commitment.

Under this arrangement, Liberia will exchange its natural resources of  various sorts with China in return for long-term infrastructural  development, job creation and a wide range of other vital  interventions for the next five years by the Asian nation.

The deal is probably, arguably the most significant package coming out  of the People’s Republic of China from the recent FOCAC summit in  Beijing, as a result of the bilateral talks between Presidents George  Weah and Xi Jinping, according to Liberia’s Finance and Development  Planning Minister Tweah.

“Let’s get it clear; this is not money sitting down and available  tomorrow morning. This is similar to what the Ghanaians see – the  mineral resources swap; it’s an interesting money.”

Tweah then lamented that some developing countries have been trapped  for the last 50 years in poverty despite the enormous resources they  have but cannot still see many people have jobs.

“So, we think what this model does is that it monetizes future flows  because, eventually, the future will arrive,” Tweah told journalists  Tuesday at a special press conference at the Ministry of Information  on gains coming out of the China visit.

The finance minister noted further that as a result of said agreement,  Chinese companies with mining interests will come to Liberia and  conduct feasibility studies on the exact value of Liberia’s resources  and what such a deal means in practical terms.

He said a lot of work is going to happen over the next two years for  vital infrastructural projects, including the building of a dam on the  Saint Paul River which will provide sufficient electricity for the  citizenry and could also be exported by the government.

It is hardly disputable that despite the abundance of natural  resources, including minerals that Liberia has, the country has not  thrived significantly in ventures that would take its population out  of poverty and set the nation on par with other countries in the world  experiencing economic and infrastructural success from the money they  generate from their natural resources.

However, at some point in the 1970s, Liberia’s gross domestic product  (GDP) was only second to Japan, leaving China behind with a wide  disparity.

Nonetheless, China, forty years ago, sustainably kept its economic  engine revving as the world’s fastest developing country that has now  decided to help Africa, which is considered as the world’s fastest  growing continent through different financing arrangements and  ‘goodwill’ programs via its foreign policy.

The money is also expected to be a financing source for the Liberian  government’s national development framework dubbed Pro-Poor Agenda for  Prosperity and Development (PAPD).

The validation meeting of the PADP by major stakeholders takes place  this Friday in Ganta, Nimba County.


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