Monrovia – The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Axel Addy, returned to Monrovia recently from a three-day trade mission to Ghana with Liberia’s major oil palm investors in an effort to support export opportunities to Ghana for crude palm oil (CPO).
The mission is a follow-up activity derived from a recent bilateral meeting between the two Heads of States, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and John Dramani Mahama where the two trade ministers were instructed to organize such a meeting with the private sector operators of the two countries to explore potential trade opportunities between the two countries.
The Minister headed an eight-member delegation comprised of senior management and technicians from Sime Darby, Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL), Maryland Oil Palm Plantation (MOPP) and the Director of the National Standards Lab. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Minister of Trade and Industry of Ghana hosted the delegation at his Ministry.
The meeting chaired by the Minister included participants of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Customs Authority, the Food and Drug Administration, the Ghana Oil Palm Development Association, the Ghana Standards Authority among others.
The first day meeting, on Wednesday, 30th of November commenced with welcome remarks by the two Ministers, followed by business dialogue on trade opportunities in oil palm.
The discussions covered a range of subjects from exporting crude palm oil to Ghana and the requirements from the various authorities to Ghana specialized service providers to suppliers providing equipment and maintenance support to Liberia.
The meeting was concluded with several action items:
- An MOU between the Ghana Standards Authority and the Liberia National Standards Lab will be developed to facilitate coordinated sampling and testing of CPO for export and other areas of support and training for the Liberian National Standards Lab.
- The Ghana Oil Palm Development Association will consult with its members including refineries, equipment maintenance service providers and suppliers of equipment, to connect Liberian investors to those members.
- The Ministry of Trade and Industry will organize a similar mission to Liberia after the Ghana elections some time in February with not only the oil palm operators and service providers but also others from various sectors.
The Ministers concluded the first day meetings with a renewed commitment to promote regional trade integration by fostering more of such bilateral engagements in an enabling environment for greater trade within ECOWAS.
The subsequent day commenced with a visit to the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) where Minister Addy and the Director of the Liberia National Standards Laboratory met with the senior management team of the GSA where several issues were discussed including the sharing of the law creating the GSA and tenets of the MoU to be developed between the NSL and GSA.
The GSA also emphasized that because Liberia did not have a National Standards Body (NSB), it is forfeiting numerous opportunities set aside for LDCs from the international standards community and could not even get into a strong agreement without legislative mandate.
It was therefore encourage that Liberia fast track the passing of the Act creating the Liberia Standards Authority.
The meeting was followed by a tour of several labs on the grounds of the GSA.
During the course of the tour, the Minister was informed that the GSA, through fee for service, is a revenue generating institution that executes verification of conformity assessments for commercial goods entering the Ghanaian market.
The Minister as the current Chair of the West Africa Monetary Zone Trade Ministers Forum also pay a courtesy call on the WAMZ Director General who hosted a lunch in the Minister’s honor where they discussed regional integration issues and the Minister’s upcoming visit to Abuja.
The private investors also spend the day meeting with Ghana operators in the oil palm sector. The mission was concluded with a team meeting.
The delegation thanked the Minister for his commitment to support their investment in Liberia.
The Minister thank the investors for keeping their operations opened in Liberia despite the challenges and committed to working with them to ensure exports begin and their investment become profitable.
He also committed to host a working meeting with them, the LRA, the Ministry of Finance to begin the ETLS and CET application process for export to Ghana, and also agreed to give a tour of the National Standards Laboratory where the crude palm oil will be tested in Liberia.