ITC Executive Director Arancha Gonzalez
International Trade Center or ITC Executive Director Arancha Gonzalez has congratulated and welcome Liberia’s membership to the World Trade Organization or WTO, saying the country has taken a giant step forward in making policy and regulatory reforms towards ease of doing business in the process of its accession to the WTO.
Gonzalez who also congratulated President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for adopting an executive order for the implementation of Liberia’s post-accession plan said the time has come for Liberia to implement these reforms in the right earnest and reap the benefits of WTO membership.
She mentioned the ITC’s assistance provided the country in developing its National Trade Policy and National Export Strategy, saying ” these documents are guides for Liberia to undertake institutional reforms and providing support services to enable businesses, especially SMEs, to integrate into the global economy. It would contribute to inclusive development by ensuring that the poor, in particular women, are able to participate equitably in the economic growth.”
Gonzalez said Liberia’s post-accession plan emphasizes trade facilitation reforms to reduce costs of doing business and enhance competitiveness; Economic diversification and value addition by selecting value chains contributing to job creation and improved livelihood; and Compliance with SPS and TBT requirements to target the lucrative markets.
“We, in the ITC, have already taken initial steps to start implementing some of these elements of Liberia’s post-accession strategy,” the she said adding, ITC is embarking on the development of comprehensive export strategies for the Tourism and Wood-Furniture sectors.
Liberia’s tourism sector, he said presents significant employment potential, scope for national brand development, and potential development of feeder services, which will help lift the economy, especially in the post Ebola context.
The wood furniture sector, he adds, presents tremendous scope for developing value-addition capabilities and to tap into the potential to attract investors. Gonzalez noted that ITC will also assist Liberia in proper implementation of their WTO commitments from the private sector perspective. by coordinating the future implementation of the policy reforms of the National Trade policy in line with the Post Accession Plan; Supporting the implementing the trade facilitation reforms; and Making businesses understand the WTO commitments to improve their competitiveness.
“Today, we all agree that Liberia needs generous support of the international community to make the most of its WTO membership, in particular the SMEs to fully integrate into the global economy,” Gonzalez said, adding that ITC stands ready to accompany Liberia in its journey towards prosperity of its people.
The ITC Executive Director concluded by appealing to development partners to help Liberia tap into its economic potential and develop confidence in the global trading system.