Liberia is among the latest countries that have now signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Over 150 countries and international organizations have so far joined the Initiative.
The BRI, previously the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was initiated by China in 2013 aimed at enhancing all-around connectivity through infrastructure construction, exploring new driving forces for world economic growth, and building a new platform for world economic cooperation.
According to a dispatch from Liberia’s Embassy near Beijing, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Nathaniel Farlo McGill, who represented government at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation here in Beijing, signed on behalf of the Liberian Government, while Mr. Ning Jizhe, Vice-Chairman of National Development and Reform Commission signed on behalf of the PRC.
The signing of the MoU, which took place on the eve of the Forum, was a culmination of the many levels of discussions and efforts that had been held with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Liberian Embassy near Beijing as well as between the Presidents of Liberia and the People’s Republic of China.
On September 1, 2018, during a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), President George Manneh Weah expressed Liberia’s interest in participating in the BRI as it serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples.
Recognizing the political consensus of jointly promoting the BRI, the two governmentshave decided to work together to form cooperation between the two economies, enhance policy coordination, deepen mutual beneficial and practical cooperation and mutual learning between civilizations, with the view to realizing joint development and common prosperity.
Both countries intend to work together to enhance political relations, economic ties, security cooperation and people-to-people exchanges; strengthen cooperation and promote regional connectivity; jointly establish an open, inclusive and balanced economic cooperation framework to maintain regional peace and development, and more importantly, promote bilateral cooperation.
The two countries have agreed on five cooperation priorities including policy coordination, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity.
Meanwhile, the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing under the theme: “Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future”. Events included a leaders’ roundtable, a high-level meeting, thematic forums, a CEO conference and other side events.
Host China, together with 37 heads of state and governments, representatives from over 100 countries including heads of international and multilateral organizations took stock of BRI achievements and worked on a blueprint for future cooperation to further enrich BRI cooperation.
The BRI is an important initiative for international cooperation proposed by President Xi to enhance both China’s development and its cooperation with global partners. Since its inception, the BRI has received strong endorsement and warm support from the international community.
In another development, on the sidelines of the Forum, Minister McGill held bilateral discussions with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Mr. Phạm Bình Minh. Their discussions centered on increasing trade and commercial ties between the two countries.
Minister McGill congratulated Vietnam for the tremendous economic progress the country has made in recent years including international affairs, citing the recent meeting it hosted between the President of the United States of America, Mr. Donald Trump and the Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.
The minister of state for presidential affairs appealed to His Excellency Mr. Minh to consider his country’s support to Liberia’s efforts to boost its agriculture sector especially rice production as Vietnam is a major producer and exporter of rice in the world.
For his part, the deputy prime minister indicated his government’s desire to work closely with President Weah’s administration in fostering closer ties and used the occasion to extend an official invitation to the Liberian leader to visit Vietnam in the near future.
He recalled agreements already signed between the two governments granting visa waivers for holders of diplomatic and official passports in order to facilitate visits and official exchanges.