Looking to the Middle East

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    The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan shakes hands with Liberian President, George Manneh Weah.jpeg

    The United States and the European Union have traditionally been Liberia’s main political and economic allies. The West African nation has traded with these countries and has for decades been at the receiving end of substantial foreign aid.

    China has in recent years extended that list and now sits at the top of the country’s trading partners.

    According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Liberia’s major trading partners are China, the European Union, the United States of America and the Ivory Coast.

    But as the country experiences its worst economic crisis since the 2014 Ebola disaster, the George Weah administration is seemingly exploring all possibilities to entice investors that would inject the needed capital to get back on its feet an economy, which the International Monetary Fund says is growing at 0.4 percent at the moment.

    The Middle East – mainly the United Arab (UAE) Emirates is the new

    destinations.

    Early this month, the authorities reached an agreement with a member of Dubai’s ruling family – Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum for investment in Liberia’s energy, mining, infrastructure, and other sectors.

    At present, President Weah is in the UAE wooing investors. On Wednesday, the presidential website- emansion.gov.lr reported the following:

    The official visit of the President of Liberia, Dr. George Manneh Weah, to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) started to bear fruits on arrival as the Government and private investors in that middle-eastern state unveiled on day one of the visit enormous development interests in various sectors.

    President Weah and entourage arrived in the UAE capital city of Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 to colorful and exciting reception from authority of the country, including Crown Prince Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

    The host officials in their first interaction with President Weah and delegation promised to help him transform Africa’s oldest independent Country.

    President Weah’s meeting with the Crown Prince followed a reception meeting with the UAE’s Minister of State, Director General and Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Prominent Advocate of Alternative Energy, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber.

    The President and delegation, in the meeting with the Crown Prince and other UAE officials, discussed issues of bilateral and direct investment to Liberia.

    The Liberian Leader used the moment to brief his UAE hosts about his vision to transform Liberia.

    “I have travelled to Paris, Monaco, Rome, London and Abu Dhabi and remain amazed by how the cities look,” the President said during the meeting attended by a horde of investors and business executives. “I can’t serve as President of Liberia and leave my Country undeveloped. My government has a framework for national development; it is called the Pro Poor Agenda for Development. This plan is aimed at lifting my people out of poverty and making life worth living for all.”

    Before President Weah ever ended his remarks, the Crown Prince and the Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE’s Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, apparently marveled by the President’s passion for development of his country injected, saying, “President Weah, name your priorities and they will be done.”

    President Weah named road connectivity, including a coastal highway, agriculture, the revamping of the Liberia Electricity Corporation, renewable energy, health and education as top priorities of his administration’s first term.

    The UAE leaders, at the end of the meeting with President Weah, immediately set up a technical working group comprising civil engineers, agriculture experts and other technocrats mandated to travel to Liberia for assessment and to conclude final arrangements for immediate direct investment.

    The team is expected to travel to Monrovia as early as April 2019.

    “I will work with you to achieve whatever you want to be your legacy as development in your country,” the Crown Prince told President Weah and delegation. “Your country is very important to us. We shall help you achieve your national agenda.”

    The Crown Prince’s assurances were reiterated by his Minister of State who added that the government and people of the United Arab Emirates take special delight in helping President Weah achieve his development dream for his country.

    The UAE officials indicated that they consider President Weah’s visit as a homecoming to Abu Dhabi where he played soccer for three years.

    What Liberia has to Offer?

    According to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI)

    Liberia is the 145th largest export economy in the world and the 97th most complex economy.

    The country is rich in natural resources with relatively large deposits of iron ore, diamonds and gold.

    The major exports from Liberia are:   Iron Ore
,    Logs
,   Scrap Metal,    Rubber,   Cocoa beans,    Coffee beans,    Camwood,    Palm Oil and   Woods Chips.

    – Festus Poquie