Liberia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) has reportedly generated interest amongst US-based Liberians on the economic future of their country. Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States Jeremiah C. Sulunteh, says U.S.-based Liberians could do more by taking advantage of the unique trade relations between America and West African nations.
With the renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), there are still advantages for individual entrepreneurial opportunities that would stimulate more trade with West African nations. “Liberians need to take advantage of the AGOA act. How can Liberians turn AGOA into an opportunity?” Amb.Sulunteh challenged his fellow compatriots in the U.S.
During the country’s 169th Independence Day celebration on 26 July this year in America, a fashion exhibition featured garments manufactured in Liberia, ‘The Pride of Liberia Collection’ by Tekay Designs. Each garment expressed brilliant color with elegant form. The dresses were manufactured, using Liberian country-cloth, a soft hand-woven cotton textile that has natural dyes applied to produce a finished print fabric or garment.
The fashion designer introduced herself as the Liberian Fashion Ambassador, appointed by Liberia’s National Tailor Union. Ambassador KimmaWreh said Liberians are not only fashionable, but should invest whole-heartedly into Liberia’s apparel and textile manufacturing capabilities.
As Fashion Ambassador, Wreh’s mission is to tour key U.S. cities with ‘The Pride of Liberia Collection’ to bring awareness about Liberia’s manufacturing capabilities in order to better position the country within the global fashion trade.
The collection had been exhibited in Houston Texas, Washington, D.C. and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia before the African Union. There is a scheduled appearance in Paris, France this November and a New York Fashion Week in 2017.
“So, I am planning my first return trip to visit Monrovia this November, after twenty-seven years”, said Fashion Ambassador Wreh and added, “I plan to visit some of Liberia’s apparel manufacturing facilities for producing ready-to-wear apparel. Through my non-profit organization, KDE Disability Africa Foundation, I will implement a training workshop to help Liberian workers with disabilities enter the sewing and textile trade.”
She stressed that having a professional discipline is a key asset for the Liberia’s workforce in achieving the country’s development goals. The people of Liberia, she noted, are resilient, and every Liberian citizen matters in the future of Liberia’s workforce.
According to a press release, the Fashion Ambassador spoke over the weekend, saying, “In the United States there is uncertainty about where manufactured goods will be produced. Political candidate, Donald Trump makes a point about pulling all U.S. manufacturing out of China because he believes the United States’ current trade deals in China lack integrity. I instinctively believe now is the time for West African nations, specifically Liberia, to step up trade initiatives with the United States.”
She said as the United States moves away from being a manufacturing nation, U.S.-based Liberians who live in the western markets should design products and create opportunities for manufacturing here. “This is the most proactive way African nationals can help Africa rise economically. Now that Liberia has joined the WTO and the AGOA is renewed, I am excited! I foresee promising opportunities back home in Monrovia.”
Wreh’s optimism about Liberia’s role in apparel manufacturing is quite inspiring for a country that has been plagued with dooms day projections about its people. However, the reality about forging into the competitive apparel trade requires long-term economic stamina; and Wreh is seeking support.
Ambassador Wreh has formed a strategic partnership between Liberia’s National Tailors, Textiles, Garments and Allied Workers Union and Excel Magazine International to help promote African fashions. Together the partners are looking to build a marketing and manufacturing cooperative with other fashion brands that wish to manufacture in Liberia, and leverage Ecxel Magazine’s promotional distribution capabilities within the African diaspora. Excel Magazine projects positive images of Africa and excellence in people, places and events.