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Liberia news

Pres. Sirleaf at 2nd U.S. Africa Business forum

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf joined several world leaders, including United States President, Barack Obama on Wednesday, September 21, at the 2nd U.S. Africa Business Forum held on the margins of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The 2nd U.S. Africa Business Forum was organized by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Department of Commerce. A dispatch from New York said President Sirleaf joined the Prime Minister of the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, H.E. HailemariamDessalegn; Chairman and Chief Executive Office, PHV Corporation, Mr. Emanuel “Manny” Chirico; and the Chief Executive Officer, Visa, Mr. Charles Scharf for a panel discussion under the theme: “Markets on the move – How diversified economies can transform risk into opportunities.” The discussion was moderated by the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. AkinwumiAyodejiAdesina.

Speaking during the panel discussion, President Sirleaf informed the forum that progress in Liberia slowed down due to the 14-year conflict, but noted that her administration has been able to mobilize direct foreign investment which reflected huge progress with increased Gross Domestic Product growth.

She also indicated that the rate of growth was again lowered due to global financial crisis which affected the price of iron and rubber, the two major export earnings of the country, and subsequently the Ebola outbreak which brought the country on its knees.

On current interventions, President Sirleaf informed the U.S. – Africa Business Forum that her administration was now focused on diversification with emphasis on the agricultural sector. “We are trying to move away from the extractive industry which has been the traditional medium for growth to agriculture. Working with the private sector, we will expand on the production of oil palm, cocoa, rubber and others with value addition as a key objective,” she pointed out.

The Liberian leader called on African countries to pay attention to building skills and mobilizing private capital for the promotion of trade and economic growth. For his part, U.S. President Barrack Obama acknowledged the progress being made by the African continent despite the governance and other challenges that still exist in some parts and urged U.S. business people to remain engaged with the continent. He pledged U.S. continuous engagement and partnership with Africa for business, trade and commerce.

Some initial benefits of the U.S. – Africa Business Forum will include six projects preparation grants to be announced by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) totaling US$5 million for a Kenyan project; a US$100 million project for infrastructure investment in Africa to be announced by PTA Bank and the Export-Import Bank of the United States of America; while the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is entering into a US$1.8 million partnership with the National Association of Securities Professionals (NASP) to convene a U.S. – Africa Institutional Investor Conference and send U.S. financial professionals to sub-Saharan Africa to help infrastructure investments, among others.-Press release

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