Unanimous WTO Vote: Liberian Senate Ratifies Accession Protocol

Monrovia – The Liberian Senate has passed into law an Act to Ratify the Protocol on the Accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) of the Republic of Liberia. The Act received a unanimous vote to successfully pass on Thursday and has been sent to the House of Representatives for concurrence.

Last December, Liberia got admitted into the World Trade Organization (WTO). Ministers, convening at the Tenth Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, formally approved Liberia’s WTO membership. The admittance of Liberia into the WTO shows to the world that Liberia is ready to do business internationally even though critics say the protocol takes more from Liberia then it gives back.

Some critics believe that part of the benefits the WTO brings, which is to ensure that members states have the opportunity to invest in other member   countries, is one sided because according to them Liberia does not have people with the financial power to invest in other countries.

 Because the WTO accession is a law, pressure has been on the Liberian legislature to ratify a protocol on the accession of Liberia. The legislature has up to June to ratify the Protocol

Mr. Chiedu Osakwe, Director of Accession at the WTO said earlier in a FrontPageAfrica interview: “After they have ratified it – and they have to do that before the end of June, in fact before the middle of June, by the 15th of June they have to and after the parliament ratifies it, the President or the Foreign Minister will sign the instrument; it’s called, the instrument on the acceptance of the protocol of accession of the protocol of Liberia and it will be deposited here.

And when it is deposited with the Director General who is the depository, we count from 30 days to zero and they become a member.

“On day one of membership, it will have obligations of things they have to notify and on that day also, the team here in the secretariat will begin to implement the post-accession plan for Liberia. The Liberians are keeping their own word domestically to be able to implement the post-accession plan, they have established the institutional framework for doing this, and they have established a steering committee, a technical working group and a post-accession monitoring plan.”

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf submitted to the Liberian Senate on February 5, 2016 the Protocol on (WTO) for possible ratification. Accordingly the communication was discussed by plenary of the Liberian Senate and in light of this, the secretary of the Liberian Senate was mandated to forward to the Joint committee on Foreign Affairs; Commerce, Trade and Industry and Judiciary, claims, Petition and Human Rights.

In keeping with the Senate rules, the joint committee held discussion on the expediency and feasible ratification of the protocol. Members of the joint committee deliberated and scrutinized the said legislation.

Among many things the committee pointed out that the Accession protocol contains Liberia’s commitment on domestic reform, that it entails the enhancement of Liberia business climate to provide a fair transparent and predictable business environment that fosters trade in competitive manner.

The committee said: “The members of the Joint committee, realizing that the ratification of this protocol will help enable the Government and people of Liberia to attain its Agenda for transformation; provides accessible and conducive business environment and will expose Liberia to fair and competitive foreign business and job opportunities.”

“In view thereof, coupled with the immerse benefit Liberia as a nation and people stand to acquire by the ratification of this protocol and in accordance with Article 34(f) of the constitution of Liberia, Members of the Joint Committee is pleased to recommend to the plenary of the Liberian Senate to ratify the entitled instrument.”

Senator Jim Tornorlah   chairman on the commerce committee said, the passage of the Act brings relief to Liberia business sector. “This is a clear indication that Liberia stands in the rating process to be able to open the market sector to the World. It will also create job for Liberian.

“I am rejoicing that the Senate was able to ratify this agreement. He differ with critics who believe that this has little benefits on Liberian, because according to him the Protocol built the Economy, provide jobs for Liberians.”

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