The Liberia National Trade Facilitation Committee Holds 2nd Quarterly Meeting

National Trade Committee Holds 2nd Quarterly Meeting
National Trade Committee Holds 2nd Quarterly Meeting
Photo Credit: ITSSD

The Liberia National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) held its second quarterly meeting for 2020 on Thursday August 20, 2020 in the Conference Room of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry situated at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town.

 

Liberia became the 163rd member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 14 July 2016 and in keeping with Article 23.2 of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement the Liberia National Trade Facilitation Committee was established on August 15, 2019 as a mechanism for Government ministries and agencies and private sector actors to consult with each other and coordinate their activities, with the goal of improving the overall efficiency and efficacy of border procedures and controls. The overriding objective is to reduce the time and costs associated with cross border trade and thereby reduce the cost of goods and services.

 

Under the chairmanship Hon. AE Nyema Wisner, Deputy Minister/Commerce & Trade Services, the NTFC discussed a number of issues affecting cross border trade including the following:

 

  • Roll Out of ECOWAS Guidelines For Reopening of Borders of Member States. A 5-man technical working group set up by Hon. Wilson K. Tarpeh, Minister of Commerce & Industry reported on activities undertaken to roll out the ECOWAS Guidelines. Under the supervision of Hon. Peter D. Somah, Asst Minister/Commerce & Trade Services, the committee met with senior staffers at the Liberia Airport Authority and the National Port Authority to create awareness of and sensitized them on the importance of undertaking their activities within the framework of the Guidelines as ECOWAS will undertake monitoring exercises on implementation of the Guideline. The technical working group will depart the capital on Sunday August 24, 2020 for further awareness and sensitization activities at the Luogatuo, Ganta and Yekepa border towns in Nimba County.

 

  • The NTFC meeting also reviewed Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) lifted in the World Bank Doing Business 2020 Report with the view of improving Liberia’s ranking and score in subsequent World Bank Doing Business Reports. The meeting resolved that the Minister of Commerce and Industry will organize a technical working group with the mandate to identify non-tariff barriers lifted in the World Bank Report and other indices with the view of advising the Government on steps and actions required to eliminate or reduce such NTBs. The technical working group will report during the next quarterly held meeting.

 

  • The meeting also underscored the need for trade related Government Ministries and Agencies especially the MFDP, the MoCI and LRA to better coordinate their activities to reduce confusion to traders and improve the trading environment. They Committee emphasized that multiple trade regulations implemented by these issues without the knowledge of the other, is a ground for confusion and serve as barrier to trade facilitation in Liberia.

 

  • The meeting also emphasized the need for Private institutions (APM Terminals, BIVAC, etc.) hired by Government of Liberia to ensure that their policies and regulations implemented are well communicated to all Government trade-related Ministries, Agencies and the National Trade Facilitation Committee long in advance before implementation to avoid frictions among traders, Government of Liberia and those private institutions.

 

Institutions In Attendance: Ministry of Commerce & Industry/Hosts; Ministry of Finance & Development Planning, Liberia Revenue Authority, The Liberia Chamber of Commerce, APM Terminals and the Liberian Business Association.