WTO Agrees to Membership Terms for Liberia
World Trade Organization members negotiating Liberia’s accession agreed by consensus on October 6 on the terms of the country’s WTO membership 2015. Liberia’s membership terms will be presented to the 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in December for a formal decision by ministers.
“I warmly welcome this news which promises to bring a timely boost to Liberia’s economic development,” said WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo. “I congratulate the government of Liberia on this achievement and praise the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. I very much look forward to finalizing Liberia’s membership at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi this December. Helping least-developed countries to trade is a vital part of the WTO’s work and is a priority for me as Director-General.”
Out of the original 48 least-developed countries (LDCs) on the United Nations list, 34 are WTO members, of which seven have negotiated their membership terms since 1995. Seven more LDCs are negotiating to join the WTO: Afghanistan, Bhutan, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Sao Tomé & Principe, and Sudan.
“We believe in the multilateral trading system and the power of trade to contribute to poverty reduction in our country, “said Axel Addy, Liberia’s Minister for Commerce and Industry. “My dream is that the work we have done here will pave the way for a better Liberia for all of us and our children so they too can exercise their potential.”
The WTO’s General Council established a working party to examine the application of the Republic of Liberia in December 2007. Liberia’s Memorandum on the foreign trade regime was circulated in April 2011. The first meeting of the Working Party took place in July 2012.
Liberia has a population of 4.3 million and a GDP of 3.8 billion. GDP has been growing in the 10-percent to 11-percent range since 2005.
Liberia exported $559 million in goods in 2013 and imported $1.2 billion. Exports grew an average of 20 percent between 2005 and 2013 while imports grew an average of 18 percent during the same period.