Vice President Joseph N. Boakai has urged business institutions in the United States partnering with Liberia to give first preference to agriculture and agri-businesses to enhance sustainable progress.
Speaking to a cross section of Liberians and American entrepreneurs on September 16 in New York at the US-Liberia Trade and Investment Forum, VP Boakai said, “We come to seek strategic partnership especially in areas of agri-business and agriculture value chains.”
He said intervention in agriculture and agri-business will engender diversification of Liberia’s economy from overreliance on and extractive sector that has made the country susceptible to “exogenous shocks” such as fluctuation in global commodity prices.
He stressed that Liberia is interested in natural resource development, mainly in areas of mining, oil and gas, as well as manufacturing and processing.
He added that Liberia is also seeking collaboration in other non-trade sectors, such as infrastructure development in energy, road construction, seaport development, health, education and Information Communication Technology (ICT), noting that strategic public-private partnerships in such areas will have the greatest impact in raising the living standard of the people.
“Liberia’s resilience in building democratic institutions and ensuring peace and stability over the last decade is the greatest guarantee for the security of foreign direct investment and capital flow,” the VP said.
“This assumption has been backed by critical reforms of Liberia’s public institutions, including reform in the security apparatus and judiciary; the passage of critical legislations such as the Freedom of Information Act, Anti-Corruption Act; and Land Reform.”
The Vice President encouraged American and Liberian private sectors to become catalysts for stimulating and spreading entrepreneurial spirit of Liberia and join in helping to open opportunities for job skills development and youth employment.
“I need not remind anyone that Liberia is always a welcome place for Americans. Our people will be waiting with outstretched arms to warmly welcome and embrace you,” VP Boakai assured.
For her part, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Bisa Williams, delivering a special statement, urged American investors to be a part of Liberia’s prosperous future by investing in the country.
She said now is the time to be thinking about Liberia, grow American businesses in Liberia and by extension grow Liberia and its people; indicating that the American Government and people believe in Liberia, its leaders and people and the prosperity of the country.
Other speakers at the forum were UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Ebola David Nabarro; Riva Levinson of the Ebola Private Sector mobilization Group; NIC’s Executive Director Gyude Wisner; Henry Saamoi of the International Bank Liberia Limited; and Anna Rogers of GROW Liberia, among others. Several panel discussions and roundtable meetings focused on Liberia’s economic outlook; agriculture and agribusiness; investment in infrastructure; investing in extractives, amongst others, were held.
The forum, organized by the Liberia’s National Investment Commission in collaboration with the America-based Developing Markets Associates (DMA), was sponsored by several groups including ExxonMobil, APM Terminals, Firestone-Liberia, Dawnus, KOSMOS, SunERGY, SoENERGY, International Bank Liberia Limited, among others.