President Weah Pushes for Foreign-Direct Investment at 2nd Annual Liberia Investment and Business Forum
MONROVIA – President George says if the Liberian economy is to be revived, the role of Foreign Direct Investment cannot be overemphasized.
He said, Liberia will require considerable Foreign Direct Investment to fulfill its development goals, as articulated in the country’s national development plan, known as the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.
President Weah made the statement during the second annual Liberia Business and Investment Forum which was held virtually last week.
This year’s forum was held under the theme, “Business Opportunities for Sustainable Economic Growth”.
According to President Weah who officially opened the forum, the forum was relevant and being held at a time when the Liberian economy which, like many other economies across the globe, has been hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“At this time, if the economy is to be revived, the role of Foreign Direct Investment cannot be overemphasized. Liberia will require considerable Foreign Direct Investment to fulfill its development goals, as articulated in our national development plan, known as the Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development,” he said.
President Weah further said that if the Forum is successful in attracting significant new Foreign Direct Investment to Liberia, it will have many important positive impacts on our economy, both direct and indirect to include increased employment, revenue gains, technology transfer, improved labor skills, increased exports, improved international competitiveness of local firms, and increased domestic competition, amongst others.
He thanked the organizers and sponsors of the Forum and international partners whom he said have continued to lend strong support to Liberia’s development and the revamping of the economy to improve the livelihoods of Liberian citizens.
“Let me remind you that, when I began my tenure as President of Liberia in 2018, I declared during my Inaugural Address that “Liberia is open for business”. This is a standing invitation, and I now want to encourage all of you to take advantage of it and come to Liberia to discover the mutual benefits of investing in our country.
I thank you,” Pres. Weah said.
Speaking earlier, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, George S.W. Patten Sr. disclosed that the forum which focused on three thematic areas – agriculture, health and tourism – shines a spotlight on the efforts of the Liberian government to open the Liberian economy to the private sector for investment.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Acting Minister Dewer E. Gray stated as part of the government’s Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, the government is working to revamping the economy by increasing productivity through value chain with emphasis on agricultural processing and marketing to promote the production of rice, cassava and vegetables.
She also said that at the just-ended Judicial Conference held in Monrovia, the government through the judiciary, resolved to reforming rules and procedures that will improve the business climate and increase the confidence of investors. She added that these reforms will also ease the bureaucracies of doing business in Liberia.
In his remarks, the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Michael McCharthy praised Liberia for its abundant dependable rainy season, incredible fertile soil, long coastline and ports and natural resources.
He noted that 50 percent of Liberia’s population are under 20, which, according to him provides a workforce opportunity for anyone wanting to set up operations in Liberia.
“The raw materials, geography and location all favor Liberia’s return to being the important commercial hub in North-West Africa that it was 40 years ago. There is great potential for success,” he said.
For his part, the Minister of Finance, Samuel Tweah spoke of several reforms being undertaken by the government to ease bureaucracies in the private sector. He mentioned the President’s Executive Order 103 that abolished the Import Permit Declaration so as to increase imports and allow prices to compete on the Liberian market.
He added that the administration is working towards digitizing the economy as part of the national macro reform. According to him, the World Bank and partners have agreed to fund the national switch process.
He said the government is also, among other things, working to liberalize credit in the agriculture sector so as to improve the economic growth.
President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Albert T. Chie has challenged the National Investment Commission (NIC) and its partners to continuously play a major role in the economic transformation of the Country by aggressively promoting investment opportunities, and supporting the growth of foreign direct investment.
The Senate Pro-Tempore recalled that he had the privilege of attending a similar investment forum, in Washington D.C., a little over a decade ago, then as Assistant Minister of Energy at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, adding that the energy sector was one of the key investment areas which was highlighted at the forum.
Since then, he averred that the sector has attracted attention due to policy and regulatory reforms that were suggested at that forum and subsequently implemented by the Government of Liberia.
Pro-Temp Chie: “At this forum our country anticipates numerous dividends as we look forward to working along with investment partners from the United States and other Countries and commit the Liberian Senate in the creation of an enabling environment through the enactment of appropriate legislations and diligent discharge of oversight for the growth of the private sector”.
The Minister of Commerce, Mawine G. Diggs urged that in order to secure Liberia’s future, focus must be placed on agriculture and agro-processing.
She said agriculture, industrial and service sector are the building blocks for trade in Liberia.
Cllr. N. Oswald Tweh, President of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, emphasized the need for private sector investment which he said will result in GDP growth, create employment opportunities and improve the livelihood of Liberians.
The Minister of Agriculture, Madam Jeannie Cooper said the Ministry is transforming subsistence farming into commercial farming through the establishment of agricultural transformation centers. These centers, she said, will provide mechanized and research support for farmers.
The Minister Counselor for Press and Public Affairs, Al-Jerome Anastas Chede Sr. and Madam Hester Becker moderated the forum.