Liberia Eyes Manufacturing to Bolster Export Earnings

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Liberia has planned to stop reliance on the extractive sector and transition into an industrialized economy, placing agriculture at the base of production to boost export earnings, Commerce and Industry Minister Wilson Tarpeh has revealed.

The economy needs a couple of billion United States dollars for government to implement its manufacturing program, Professor Tarpeh said.

“Where we are going is by way of investment and not by loans. We want to attract investments and to attract investments we do have to create the enabling environment: to make sure that there is rule of law, there is respect for the sanity of contracts, that there is predictability in the environment.”

“This economy from the last 12 years or so has been primarily on extractive industry and we are trying to change it to agriculture – oil palm, cocoa, coffee.

We want to develop and manufacture some of the things we trade in terms of value addition.

He told New Democrat in an interview Thursday in Monrovia the Weah administration is bringing back the triangular arrangement with the Liberia Produce and Marketing Corporation, agriculture cooperatives and lending institutions that are dedicated to agriculture financing to ensure the success of its industrialization goal. ‘This is a plan that was put in place 45 years ago and I think we can tweak it to fit present day Liberia.

With the International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgrading Liberia’s growth from 4.7% to 0.4% Tarpeh said the nation’s commerce is being affected in terms of volume and direction of trade.

“Our trade policy are consistent with our national goals and those goals are to ensure that we support the pro-poor agenda to lift our people from poverty to a better level. We want to trade freely with the international community both in export and import.

“The trade balance (US$55.0 million Trade Deficit) has been improving but is still negative. We are not at the level we want to see it. We would want to see it flip where the export would be more than import to stimulate economic activities. And to do that we must be able to create the investment that will be able to improve the value of our primary commodities on the world market.”

– Writes Festus Poquie