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'.