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  June 21st, 2016 | Written by

Liberia Ratifies WTO Agreement

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  • Liberia is the last country in ECOWAS to become a WTO Member.
  • Liberia's WTO non-member status placed it “at an economic disadvantage compared to its neighbors.”
  • Over 50 percent of Liberia's population are under the age of 18.

Liberia’s House of Representatives has concurred with the Senate on the ratification of the country’s accession protocol to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The upper body earlier ratified the agreement on April 20. Liberia’s accession package was adopted by the WTO on December 16, 2015.

Liberia thus becomes the final member of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) to join the WTO.

The United States had been twisting arms to get Liberia to ratify the package.

“To secure a peaceful and prosperous future for its youngest citizens, Liberia must ensure that they will have ample opportunity to succeed as the country enters its second decade of post-conflict stability. Membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) will provide a foundation for establishing the rules-based system for growing the economy, attracting foreign investment, and securing that future for the country’s youth,” wrote Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of African Affairs, in an article posted on the website of te U.S. embassy in Monrovia, capital of Liberia.

Liberia’s non-membership in the WTO Member, “places it at an economic disadvantage compared to its neighbors both for regional and international trade,” Thomas-Greenfield noted.

More than 50 percent of Liberia’s population are under the age of 18 and that young population faces limited employment opportunities. At the same time, the country has an 18-year development plan to reach middle income status by 2030. In order to achieve that goal, Liberia needs to create jobs through economic growth and diversification.

Thomas-Greenfield suggested that WTO membership would provide a foundation for achieving that goal. “Membership by itself will not automatically create a dynamic economy,” she wrote. It will, however, reduce impediments to trade that will help attract new investment and allow entrepreneurs, innovators and efficient producers to flourish.”

Thomas-Greenfield went on to claim that the average Liberian will benefit from WTO membership through a better employment, business, and investment environment; enhanced export opportunities; and lower prices for goods and improved access to services.

Liberia’s WTO Accession Protocol calls for Liberia to establish predictable tariff rates, ensure legal transparency, and adhere to an enforceable mechanism for resolving disputes. “Business thrives on predictability,” Thomas-Greenfield argues, “so these initiatives will foster new investment, job creation and economic growth.”