WTO accession
In progress
Population
4,128,572
Per capita growth rate (%)
7.1
WB Ease of Doing Business rank
152
Share of international non-oil trade (%)
0.702
Value of non-oil goods traded (in US$ million)
709
Logistics performance Index (LPI)
2.38
2011 data - Sources: UNCTAD, World Bank, WTO, UN Comtrade

In 2007, Liberia joined the Integrated Framework (IF) programme and undertook a Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) which was validated in 2008. The DTIS brought together Liberia’s trade community (with representatives from private sector, Government and civil society) to agree on which activities were most critical from a list of challenges identified in consultations.

 

Moreover, the study was written in tandem with the 2008 Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) to make sure development and trade were interlinked. As an outcome, the DTIS deepened the analysis of the issues in the PRS and through the Action Matrix, offered the next practical steps in dealing with constraints to trade expansion.

Description of the projects (objectives and interventions)

Under the EIF, Liberia's Tier 1 'Support to National Implementation Arrangements (NIAs)' project has been under implementation since November 2009, having been approved by the EIF Board in October 2009. The Tier 1 Project aims at supporting Liberia's integration into the global trading system through strengthening the country's capacity to formulate and implement trade policies including the priority areas identified in the DTIS Action Matrix, facilitate the mainstreaming of trade in the national development plan, and improve donor coordination on Aid for Trade (AfT).

Liberia's Tier 1 project has been extended into phase 2 with approval from the EIF Board in May 2014, after a satisfactory Tier 1 Mid-term evaluation in 2013. The Tier 1 phase 2 project (May 2014 to May 2016) will continue to facilitate Liberia's transition into the regional and global trading systems as an active player with a competitive domestic private sector and a supportive trade and business environment through trade mainstreaming.

Main progresses to date

In 2013, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) established a Single Projects Implementation Unit (SPIU) which brought the previously external EIF National Implementation Unit (NIU) into the Ministry premises and structures.  In addition to EIF Tier 1 staff, the SPIU houses an Overseas Development Institute Fellow as well as project staff, Government civil servants and officials working on the Swedish National Board of Trade project, and the African Development Bank funded Programme of Assistance to Trade Support Institutions in Liberia. 

The SPIU, a core part of the three-year strategic plan of the Ministry, aims to broaden the overall mandate of the MoCI-sanctioned and EIF-funded NIU to an umbrella unit with the broad goal of coordinating, monitoring and evaluating project related activities of various MoCI donor-funded projects. Integrating and embedding these projects and programmes within the MoCI structure under the SPIU further ensures the transfer of knowledge and sustainability of trade-related projects.

Liberia has updated its DTIS with the assistance of the World Bank. The DTIS Update (DTISU) approved in August 2012 by the EIF Board, was developed under the theme 'Leveraging Trade for Economic Diversification and Inclusive Growth'.

Liberia Standards Laboratory is now operational with assistance from UNIDO. Work is also underway with UNIDO, FAO and STDF to develop an EIF Tier 2 project strengthening Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures in line with the WTO SPS Agreement and establishing a National SPS Committee as well as an authority in charge of food safety.

On 29 April 2014, the President of Liberia, H.E. Ms Ellen Johnson Sirleaf launched the National Trade Policy (NTP) and the National Export Strategy (NES) at the National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Conference and Trade Fair in Monrovia. The NTP and NES vision is to boost the capacities of private sector and re-connect the country with regional and global markets. Moreover, the NES and the NTP set out to boost employment generation, improve livelihoods and reduce poverty by promoting a balanced relationship between trade integration, sustainable development and social inclusion.

The NTP as Liberia's first policy document holistically addresses issues related to trade. Its main objective is to promote the integration of Liberia into the global economy through increasing the competitiveness of its businesses, with a focus on the agricultural, industrial and services sectors. The NTP was finalized with the support of ITC and had received prior support from the EIF Tier 1 project, and builds on input from the DTISU.

Likewise, the NES was developed with support from ITC and targets the development of five priority sectors: cassava; cocoa; fish and crustaceans; oil palm; and rubber. The strategy also targets three trade-support functions – access to finance, quality management, and trade logistics and facilitation – which have a positive impact on the export competitiveness of all sectors. Work is underway on exploring the opportunities offered by tourism and the furniture sectors through the EIF.

The EIF has facilitated the establishment of a WTO Reference Center at MoCI and setup a resource center for trade-related activities at the Liberia Chamber of Commerce. 

The EIF has also provided a key platform to bring public and private sector together for an effective dialogue on improving the business climate. As such, public private dialogue now takes place through the Liberia Better Business Forum. This is further enhanced by Liberia's active MSME programme.

Liberia's National Development Plan, the Agenda for Transformation (2012-2017) is in place and aims to support the achievements of the country's long-term strategy (National Vision 2030 Strategy). Moreover, the EIF Tier 1 project support facilitated the National Trade Mainstreaming Workshop in 2012 which brought together a variety of stakeholders and involved discussions on inclusion of trade into the National Vision 2030 Strategy.

In 2012, the EIF supported a technical workshop on the WTO Accession and regional integration processes, as well as leveraging of bilateral resources to support the accession process from Sweden.

Furthermore, with EIF support, there has been Increased inter-ministerial linkages in the preparation of foreign trade statistics (bringing together the Ministries of Finance; and of Commerce and Industry; the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo‑Information Services; Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs; Central Bank of Liberia etc.,).

A survey on informal Cross-Border Trade has also been completed, to be finalized for submission to policymakers and stakeholders. In terms of capacity building and outreach, the NIU team participated in the first M&E and Communications Regional Workshop for African Anglophone countries held in Zambia in April 2013. Additionally, Monthly Trade Bulletins and Quarterly Trade Reviews have been prepared and students from the Department of Economics at the University of Liberia have been involved in the trade mapping exercise. Liberia also features in the EIF country profile series and the EIF film, "Trade Works", which have been widely used to promote the visibility of the programme's objectives as part of the national trade agenda.

In September 2011, the NIU also supported the private sector by conducting a National Trade Fair. The trade fair brought together small businesses to showcase their products and establish a 'Made in Liberia Trade Store'.

Outlook

With UNIDO, FAO and STDF support, Liberia is developing an EIF Tier 2 project proposal in respect to SPS capacity building.

Liberia is also developing two feasibility studies under the EIF on tourism and furniture sectors.

Work is also underway by MoCI to include an implementation matrix in the NTP, building on the DTISU and the NES to act as the Medium-Term Programme.

Outcome 1: Sufficient Institutional and management capacity built in EIF countries to formulate and implement Trade related strategies & implementation plans
Outcome IndicatorBaseline2013201420152016
O1.1 Tier 1 ' Support to NIAs' project completed or under implementationYesYes
O1.2 EIF Country with complete, up-to-date validated DTIS Action MatricesYesNo
O1.3 Level of capacity of NIU to perform fiduciary programme management for Tier 1 project34
O1.4 Country with up-to date trade strategiesNoNo
O1.5 Country with quality trade strategyN/AN/A
O1.6 Country with quality trade strategy implementedN/AN/A
Outcome 2: EIF countries mainstream trade into their national development strategies and plans
Outcome IndicatorBaseline2013201420152016
O2.1 Trade in PRSP and/or National development strategies11
O2.2 Existence of productive sector strategies integrating the trade dimensionYesYes
O2.3 Functioning public/private consultation mechanism11
Outcome 3: Coordinated delivery of trade related resources (funding, TA etc.) by donors & implementing agencies to implement country priorities following adoption of DTIS Action Matrix
Outcome IndicatorBaseline2013201420152016
O3.1 Availability of an annual rolling implementation overview integrating all trade-related government & donor-supported activities (including gender & environment)YesYes
O3.2 Frequency of government and donor consultations on trade-related matters11
O3.3 UN CEB Cluster activities based on DTIS Matrix priorities in EIF CountriesNoNo
O3.4 Country with joint donor initiatives in the trade area (such as need assessment; strategy formulations; programming; pooled funding; M&E; etc.)NoNo
Outcome 4: EIF Countries secure resources in support of initiatives that address DTIS Action Matrix priorities
Outcome IndicatorBaseline2013201420152016
O4.1 Country with implementation plan integrating DTIS/Action Matrix priorities and indicating financing needs to be met through ODAN/AN/A
O4.2 Country where a Government budget exists for implementation of its trade strategyYesYes
O4.4 Number of projects funded by donors related to the DTIS Action Matrix0N/A
O4.4.1 Amount of projects funded by donors related to the DTIS Action Matrix (Million USD)0N/A

With support from the EIF to boost trade, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has automated its national Business Registry and reduced the time it takes to register a business – reforms have helped to boost Liberia’s ranking in the World Bank’s Doing Business Survey from 167 in 2008 to 144 in 2014.

The Import Permit Declaration is now only required for importation of food and medicines and the threshold for pre-shipment inspection has increased from US$1,000 to US$3,000. In line with concerted trade facilitation efforts, the Port of Monrovia has increased competitiveness in the sub-region and launched a one-stop shop centre bringing together customs, commerce and other agencies.

The Liberia Standards Laboratory is now operational with assistance from UNIDO, also supported by an ongoing national Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) standards framework study. And, with EIF support, new Tier 2 projects are in the pipeline to strengthen SPS measures in Liberia in line with the WTO SPS Agreement, with work already under way to establish a National SPS Committee as well as an authority in charge of food safety. Complying with standards will assist Liberia to get on to the trading platform by increasing its competitiveness to access wider international markets for some of its major exports like vegetables, fruits and other agricultural commodities.

DTIS Update

Starting date / End date
21/08/2012
Approved Budget
200,000
Board Approval Date
22/10/2009
Disbursement
200,000
Expenditure Reported
199,456
MOU Approval Date
21/08/2012
MOU Expiry Date
29/02/2016
Phase
Completed

NIA Support (T1 Phase 1 and 2)

Starting date / End date
17/11/2009
Approved Budget
1,499,900
Board Approval Date
22/10/2009
Disbursement
1,499,900
Expenditure Reported
1,437,874
MOU Approval Date
10/11/2009
MOU Expiry Date
30/06/2017
Phase
Implementation

Sector export strategy design for the Liberia’s Tourism and Furniture sector strategies

Starting date / End date
08/09/2015
Approved Budget
199,433
Board Approval Date
13/08/2015
Disbursement
199,433
Expenditure Reported
193,761
MOU Approval Date
13/08/2015
MOU Expiry Date
30/11/2016
Phase
Implementation
Posted: 08/05/2015

Liberia: Trading up from the Ebola crisis

 

Liberia is once again stepping up with palpable energy, vision and commitment to move past a devastating epidemic that has destroyed the country beyond loss of human life, social dislocation and heavy negative economic impacts.

 

As one of the three countries in West Africa that has suffered from the Ebola outbreak, Liberia's economy deteriorated when its land borders were closed, cutting off trade and the movement of people. The World Bank has estimated that the outbreak has cost the three poorest nations more than US$2 billion over 2014-15, with an estimation of foregone income in 2015 for Liberia amounting to US$180 million.

 

With the Ebola situation now largely under control, Liberia has picked up the pace, with firm conviction matched by strong political backing and a clear focus of the country's national development goals. Trade is now seen making a renewed economic growth recovery possible with dedicated coordination from the Single Project Implementation Unit (SPIU), supported through the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) Programme in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which leads coordination and monitoring and evaluation of donor‑funded projects on economic growth and trade capacity. 

 

Liberia is opening up to realize its long-term prospects and kick-starting policy reforms to build a more business‑friendly climate and a competitive trade regime. Through the EIF, the SPIU has been coordinating an update to the 2008 Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) conducted by the World Bank. The DTIS Update, which will be validated in mid-2015, is fully reflective of the fact that trade development should be at the centre of the country's strategy to shape a brighter economic outlook for Liberia. Through the robust analysis, priority action areas will be identified to help Liberia to meet its trade goals.

 

Moreover, the SPIU has also provided an anchor for support in Liberia's accession process to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The accession is being fast-tracked with the hopes for an early accession harvest at the Tenth Ministerial Conference of the WTO in December 2015. Supported through projects housed in the SPIU, such as a core project implemented by the Swedish National Board of Trade supporting the accession process, Liberia's membership to the WTO is likely to bring more investment in non-traditional sectors, such as tourism, fisheries, education and health to spur economic growth and development.  

 

Liberia's vision for trade success has also meant taking focused trade development measures into their own hands. With support from the EIF, the 'Made in Liberia Trade Store' was launched at the Liberian Marketplace in Monrovia in December 2014. The Liberian Marketplace is an initiative of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in collaboration with the EIF, leveraging additional support from Japan through the Liberia Innovation Fund Initiative, as well as Firestone and Chevron-Liberia. The Initiative creates linkages between Liberian suppliers and buyers by nurturing new opportunities for partnerships while building the capacity of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to meet quality standards.

 

The 'Made in Liberia Trade Store' also demonstrates the level of commitment and dedication of the Government to the growth and development of entrepreneurial capacity of Liberians in creating opportunities for locally produced goods to reach other markets while creating jobs locally to foster inclusive and equitable growth. Moreover, the Trade Facilitation Forum and the Liberia Better Business Forum are also now operational as key public-private sector coordination mechanisms.

 

The EIF has also worked together with and supported the MSME programme in Liberia, putting into place 125 market stalls for the National Petty Traders Union of Liberia. This is part of the Ministry's efforts together with the Monrovia City Corporation and the petty traders association to structure street vendors in Monrovia and the transformation of these businesses from the informal to the formal sector.

 

With these developments, Liberia is on a firm trajectory to secure a brighter trading future for its entrepreneurs, traders and farmers past the devastating effects they suffered from the Ebola outbreak. This will in turn mean bigger development impacts for the country, especially with development partners' continued support and engagement.

NIU Coordinator

Mr. Sayon YAIDOO
SPIU, Project Coordinator - LEIF
Ministry of Commerce and Industry
Ministry of Commerce & Industry 4th Floor, Ashmun & Gurley Streets P.O.Box 9041 1000 Monrovia 10
Monrovia, Liberia
Tel: +231 777521998

EIF NIU Team

Ms. Scholastica N. NIMLEY
EIF National Implementation Unit, Finance/Administrative Officer
Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Ashmun & Gurley Streets
Monrovia, Liberia
Tel: +231 886 540 119

WB Contact

Mr. Daniel Kwabena BOAKYE
Economist
The World Bank
-
Monrovia, Liberia
Tel: +231880304201

UNDP Contact

Mr. Kamil KAMALUDDEEN
Country Director, UNDP
UNDP
UNDP
Monrovia, Liberia
Tel: +231 770004000
Mr. Stanley KAMARA
Economic Specialist/National Economist
UNDP Liberia
Sekou Toure Avenue, Mamba Point
Monrovia, Liberia
Tel: +231 658 0203

Other

Mr. Axel M. ADDY
Minister
Ministry of Commerce and Industry
4th Floor, Ashmun & Gurley Streets P.O. Box 9041
Monrovia 10, Liberia
Tel: +231 (0) 776 141 394
Liberia Annual Progress Report 2013
Liberia Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) 2008
Liberia Action Matrix 2008
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP)
Aide-Mémoire: Preparatory Mission
Aide-Mémoire: Main Mission
Maximizing the benefits of WTO membership: Life after accession for Afghanistan and Liberia
Liberia ratifies Protocol of WTO Accession and opens up for business-driven development
The EIF partnership approach is delivering for the LDCs
Liberia: Trading up from the Ebola crisis
LIBERIA: JOB VACANCIES
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