Monrovia — As Liberia’s trade representative Gurly Teta Gibson was instrumental in leading delegations of business investors to Liberia, trumpeting the country’s image while helping to reap much-needed direct foreign trade investments.
Her responsibilities are poised to get an upgrade of even greater proportion as she prepares to become the country’s Ambassador to the United States of America, Mexico and Canada.
Her appointment comes at a critical juncture in Liberia-US relations.
Late last year, US President Donald Trump threatened to cut off financial aid to countries like Liberia that voted in favor of a draft United Nations resolution against his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Said President Trump: “I like the message that Nikki [US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley] sent yesterday at the United Nations for all of these nations that take our money, and then they vote against us at the Security Council, or they vote against us potentially at the assembly.”
The US President added: “They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us. Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”
But despite the harsh tone, Washington issued a somewhat positive congratulatory message following the election of former Montserrado County Senator George Weah.
In hailing Liberia’s first peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected head of state to another in more than four decades, the US trumpeted a major milestone for Liberia's democracy.
“We also recognize the important role Liberia's Supreme Court, political parties, security forces, and civil society organizations played in holding a peaceful and transparent contest, and we welcome the statements by international and domestic observer missions affirming the conduct of the election.”
The US says it remains deeply committed to her longstanding relationship with Liberians and its people. “We will continue to support the success of this historic democratic transition and the peace and prosperity of Liberia.”
Ms. Gibson will be expected to sharpen the edges of a long-standing relationship.
She proved her worth at the height of the deadly Ebola virus outbreak in 2014, as she help make the plea for airlines to keep travel and international medical assistance open to the affected countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Appearing before the Philadelphia City Council in October, 2014, Ms. Gibson averred: “We need airlines to go in to take supplies to those countries; if not, it is going to spread and get worse and people are going to die. We don’t have the capacity. Our health structure is not set up in a way to do the kind of containment that we need to do, and that’s why we are reaching out to other nations…”
A Diplomat and International Trade and Investment Consul with more than ten years of experience in Diplomacy, International Trade Negotiations and Global Economics, Ms. Gibson made her mark as a Women Rights and Advocacy, when she served as President of the Liberia Women Forum (LWF), a local NGO founded to seek the interest of women in Liberia.
In 2016, Ms. Gibson condemned the acts of sexual violence and savage rape, telling FrontPageAfrica that Liberia is no longer at war to still have domestic violence and rape against women on the increase.
As a trade diplomat, Gibson successfully negotiated and set-up trade deals totaling several million-dollars between companies from the USA, Africa, Latin America, Canada, the Middle East, India, Holland, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong and China.
She also engineered the relocation of the Embassy of Liberia Trade and Investment Office (TIO) from Washington, DC to Philadelphia to operate closer to big commercial markets in the Northeast trio-state region of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania a region home to large industries and corporations, huge populations, and big African immigrant communities serving as an important hub for agricultural production which was critical to support the growth mechanized farming and the agro industry in Liberia.
Restoring investors’ hope and building confidence could prove to be a major part of the incoming ambassador’s agenda.
In the past, Ms. Gibson was instrumental in fostered strong partnership with the Mayor’s Commission on African, Caribbean, and Immigrant Affairs in Philadelphia a relationship which promoted cultural and tourism between Liberia and the city of Philadelphia and leading to several trade missions to Liberia organized by the Embassy of Liberia Trade and Investment Office and the Mayor’s Commission boosting foreign direct investments in Liberia.
She also helped develop practical working championships between the Embassy of Liberia Trade and Investment Office and several national and multilateral agencies including Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Pan African Capital Group, LLC, Global Building Solutions (GBS), among many other foreign corporations and entities that accelerated the financing of small and mid-sized business entities in Liberia to spur job growth and economic activities in the country.
Ms. Gibson also spearheaded the hosting of a Liberian Business Conference (LBC) in Philadelphia an initiative important to accelerate commercial incentives for Liberian businesses operating abroad to consolidate and reduce import fees and taxation at entry ports in the country for foreign Liberian businesses to participate in Liberia’s emerging market economy.