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.
Trade ministers unanimously welcomed Liberia’s WTO membership deal, which was approved at a ceremony attended by Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta, Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Director-General Roberto Azevêdo. Ministers commended President Sirleaf for the considerable progress Liberia has made as a least-developed country (LDC) and for its significant achievement in completing its WTO accession process. Following ratification of the membership deal, Liberia would become the 35th LDC WTO member and the eighth LDC to accede to the WTO since 1995. LDCs represent a fifth of the WTO membership.
The Protocol of Accession was officially signed by DG Azevêdo and President Sirleaf at the end of the ceremony.
Liberia will have until 15 June 2016 to ratify the membership deal and would become a full-fledged WTO member 30 days after it notifies the acceptance of its Protocol of Accession to the WTO Director-General.
Kenya’s President Kenyatta congratulated Liberia for this achievement. He said: “I am pleased that this decision was taken here in Nairobi, on African soil, at the WTO’s Tenth Ministerial Conference. Without a doubt, WTO membership carries considerable gains and benefits. Liberia’s Accession Package provides a platform for continuing domestic reforms and should inspire other African countries in their domestic measures.”
President Sirleaf said: “Liberia’s accession to the WTO marks another turning point in our history, particularly in our journey of economic transformation for inclusive growth. Our transformation can neither be done alone, nor in isolation, but by forging partnerships. We appreciate the collective efforts of our partners who have made this accession a resounding success. We fully subscribe to the African common position on strengthening the rules-based multilateral trading system to create the Africa that we want.” Her full speech is here.
In his welcoming speech, DG Azevêdo paid tribute to the “engagement and leadership” of the President of Liberia. “It is particularly appropriate that, at this first Ministerial Conference in Africa, we are welcoming a new African member,” he said. “I hope that this achievement here today will help Liberia to continue on the path of hope, progress and development. WTO membership can have a big impact. It announces to the world that you are open for business. I think that this is an historic day for Liberia. It takes many pairs of hands to build a vibrant multilateral trading system. I am sure that Liberia’s contribution will help to strengthen the system for the benefit of all.” His full speech is here.
Ambassador Joakim Reiter (Sweden), Working Party Chairperson for the Accession of Liberia, paid tribute to WTO members and to the Government of Liberia for “having reached a high quality Accession Package, especially as Liberia is an LDC. Liberia is far advanced in implementing WTO-consistent legislation. Its WTO membership will contribute to strengthening the rules-based multilateral system and will provide a long-term basis for sustained legislative reforms.” His full speech is here.
Liberia applied for WTO membership in 2007 and members of the Working Party concluded the negotiations on 6 October 2015.
The list of Liberia’s commitments is available here.
Learn more about Liberia’s WTO accession negotiations here.
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