Rice producing giant Thailand and other potential countries are committing to invest in Liberia’s agriculture sector, announcing the coming of companies to operate in the West African State as government tries to diversify the economy due to global impact against rubber and iron ore export.
The commitments were made in Monrovia Tuesday, 29 March when President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf received letters of credence of four accredited ambassadors from Thailand, Spain, Ethiopia and the Gambia, most of whom reside in neighboring capitals, including Accra, Freetown, Abidjan and Dakar, respectively.
During interaction with Spain’s Ambassador Mr. Luis Prados, President Sirleaf asked him to use the instrumentality of his office, working with her government to encourage Spanish companies, many of whom worked here before to come back to look at current potentials.
“Our economy is growing very well; we of course like everyone else, have our primary commodity export. We’re feeling the pain of that also because our two major exports iron ore and rubber, are also in the state of sharp decline,” she said.
But the Liberian leader noted Government is pushing hard to move toward manufacturing through value added of some of the products here, particularly emphasizing that Liberia is a major forestry country and the administration hopes to attract investment in that area for the making of wood products and furniture, among others.
In response, Ambassador Prados said he was glad to inform the President that there were some Spanish companies that are coming back to Liberia, including new companies that are exploring current potentials to be part of the country’s economic recovery.
“I’m glad to tell you that some Spanish companies that are coming back to Liberia [including] some new companies that are exploring the situation in Liberia to be part of the recovery of your country,” the Ambassador said.
During a separate interaction with Thailand’s Ambassador to Liberia Mr. Wijhak Vhittarat, President Sirleaf said her government looks forward to the tenure of his office here to promote the bilateral goals and diplomatic cooperation between the two nations.
In the development arena, Mrs. Sirleaf acknowledged that Liberia and Thailand share certain things in common, noting that Liberia is a small rice producer while Thailand is a big rice producer; and that both nations have forests.
Reflecting on the longstanding relationship between both countries that witnessed several collaborations in the diplomatic cycle, President Sirleaf appreciated the country’s support given Liberia through the United Nations that was part of process that led to sustainable development goals here.
“I know we share the same objectives of that global agenda and I hope within the framework of that global agenda we can [pursue] how we can south-south – based upon the south-south relationship which is the cornerstone of the non-aligned movement to be able to promote stronger bilateral cooperation between our two countries,” said President Sirleaf.
Since the ambassadors are not residing here, she expressed hope that they will visit often enough to be able to monitor the cooperation endeavor upon which they would embark. Amb. Vhittarat said rice is Thailand’s one main product, and the country has for 30 years maintained the number one rice producer, and has regained its rank after falling in the last three years.
Mr. Vhittarat had said his country has done a lot for those who own rubber farms “because we” must teach them, train them and support them financially, while those engaged in rice farming will turn themselves into industrial sector.
For the last five years, he said Thailand had a tripartite project … taking its expertise to African countries to boost their rice production. He expressed hope that President Sirleaf could peruse a memorandum of understanding or MOU “seriously so that we can have a legal framework,” having acknowledged that technical cooperation was key in on the bilateral basis.
Ethiopia’s Ambassador Giffi Abasiya and Gambia’s Ambassador Mrs. Fatou Ndeye also presented letters of credence, promising to work with Liberia in promoting their countries’ bilateral and diplomatic relations with the country.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Jonathan Browne