, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 16 – Liberia has finally joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO) becoming the eighth member of the Least Developed Country (LDC) to join the organisation since 1995.
The process was completed on Wednesday at the Tenth Ministerial Conference of the WTO taking place in Nairobi, after formal approval by the member ministers.
Welcoming the move, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who is attending the Nairobi meeting termed the move as a great milestone for Liberia, which will open the country to the global trade.
“Let me assure you that Liberia intends to serve as an active member, to use trade as a tool for investment that will cause development and reduce poverty,” President Sirleaf said. “I look forward to celebrating with you a positive Nairobi outcome, the Nairobi Declaration post-Doha.”
WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo welcomed Liberia in the organisation pledging his commitment to support the country as it completes the post-accession process.
“It is particularly appropriate that at this first Ministerial Conference in Africa we are welcoming a new African Member. The approval of Liberian accession marks the WTO 35th completed accession process and Liberia has shown that commitment,” Azevêdo said.
The ceremony was graced by President Uhuru Kenyatta who also joined others in congratulating and welcoming Liberia into WTO.
Liberia’s accession to the WTO comes at a time when more than ever, the country’s economy needs to revitalise commercial trade, which has been greatly impacted especially by the Ebola epidemic.
Liberia had submitted its formal request for accession to the WTO in June 2007 and this is therefore the end of an eight-and-a-half year accession process.
Although LDCs have been able to use guidelines to facilitate their accession to the WTO since 2002, the members of the organisation decided to further simplify the accession process for the poorest countries during the organisation’s 8th ministerial conference in 2011.
These improved guidelines provided a simpler framework for the entry of LDCs like Liberia, into the WTO family.
Afghanistan, which has also succeeded in its accession, will follow suit, in a separate ceremony on Thursday in Nairobi.
Other countries currently negotiating to join the WTO also include Algeria, Belarus, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Serbia and Uzbekistan.