THIS NEWS STORY is designed to help the public understand developments in the WTO. While every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate, it does not prejudice member governments’ positions.
Liberia’s delegation — led by H.E. Mr Axel Addy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, WTO Chief Accession Negotiator — reaffirmed Liberia’s determination to fast-track its accession negotiations with WTO members through technical work and a commitment to bring domestic measures into conformity with WTO rules. Concluding Liberia’s WTO accession at the Tenth Ministerial Conference (MC10) in Nairobi is a priority for Liberia, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has announced. MC10 will be the WTO’s first Ministerial Conference held in Africa.
Minister Addy stressed the importance of WTO accession for the Liberian economy in light of the Ebola health crisis that had such a drastic impact on the country’s economic performance. “Becoming a WTO member is part of our overall development and post-Ebola recovery plans,” Minister Addy stated. "It is a healing process because we believe trade for development can be a critical tool for poverty reduction. Trade is the magic bullet to transform Africa".
H.E. Chairman Joakim Reiter of Sweden commended Liberia for its "non-stop, constructive and decisive engagement with members" and confirmed the “unanimous commitment of all members to deliver Liberia’s accession by MC10”. He also praised Liberia for its technical work, in particular for having concluded the agriculture negotiations at the plurilateral level and for committing to bind tariff lines on Information Technology Agreement (ITA) products at their currently applied rates, with a view to joining the ITA at a later date.
Foreign trade regime and WTO rules
Chairman Reiter reported that the draft Working Party Report, outlining Liberia’s ongoing trade reforms and its commitment to ensure conformity with WTO rules, was “technically maturing”. The number of remaining issues to be included in the draft Working Party Report was now very limited, the Chairman added.
Bilateral market access negotiations
Chairman Reiter welcomed progress made in the market access negotiations between Liberia and six members. He reported that Liberia’s bilateral market access agreement with Japan had been concluded and deposited with the WTO Secretariat and urged members to close the remaining negotiations, which are near their conclusion, by 30 June.
Liberia updated WTO members on its legislative developments. It reaffirmed its commitment to bring its trade regime into conformity with WTO rules and to enact the WTO-relevant legislation before accession.
To ensure that Liberia’s accession is completed by MC10, Chairman Reiter urged members to send their questions to Liberia by 4 June. He also encouraged Liberia to submit technical inputs required to update the Working Party documents, namely the updated Legislative Action Plan, draft and enacted WTO-relevant legislation, responses to members’ questions, and inputs for the final revision of the Draft Working Party Report. He urged all parties to conclude the remaining bilateral negotiations.
The next Working Party meeting is envisaged for the second half of July.
- Application received on 13 June 2007
- Working Party established on 18 December 2007
- Working Party Chairperson: H.E. Mr Joakim Reiter (Sweden)
- Working Party Secretary: Ms Juneyoung Lee
- Working Party co-Secretary: Ms Anna Varyanik
- Director of the Accessions Division: Mr Chiedu Osakwe
Learn how to become a WTO member here.
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