US- Canadian Based Firms Begin Trade Mission To Liberia
By Horatio Bobby Willie
Gurley Gibson, head of delegation
Monrovia, Saturday, August 4, 2012: A team of business people from the United States of America and Canada arrived in the country over the weekend to hold business discussions with Liberian government officials, businesses, and entrepreneurs in the country.
According to a Foreign Ministry release, the Trade Delegation's mission to Liberia which commences Sunday, August 5th is expected to last through August 17, 2012.
Being held under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the delegation which is includes the Trade and Investment Office (TIO) of the Liberian Embassy in the United States will spend the next two weeks exploring private sector growth opportunities within Liberia, studying trends in the country's developing and fast growing economy, while also finding ways to spur job growth by potentially boosting small and mid-sized business operations throughout the nation.
The Foreign Ministry release quotes Liberia's Trade Representative Gurley Gibson as saying the high-level delegation comprises of representatives from the Hilton Group, the Canadian based Reeves Intercontinental Services, Incorporated, Heart of Africa Mission Development Corporation, Philips Consulting Group, Reeves Group, among others.
The release said trade delegation includes Hon. Stanley Straughter, a good friend of Liberia along with his colleague, Mr. Thomas Thompson, both representing Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio and Associates; Mr. Vickson Korlewala, representing EcoPower Liberia; Dr. Lee Barnes and Mr. Limerick Willie, representing Heart of Africa Mission Development Company, an associate of the Hilton Group; Mr. Andrey Krahalev representing LIRUSA, Mr. Ben Philips, representing Philips Consulting; Mr. Augustus Reeves, representing Reeves Group; and Mr.Darrell Bennett, representing New Horizon Minerals.
The Trade and Investment Office mission comes as the Government of Liberia seeks to increase private direct investment in the country.
During Sunday's introductory ceremony to be held at the Bella Casa Hotel in Sinkor, the delegation immediately upon arrival will meet officials of the government and other members of the private sector and discuss an overview of Liberia's investment climate and opportunities for investors with eyes on starting a business in Liberia, regulatory requirements and investment policies and incentives under the Investment Incentive Act.
Later on Monday, August 6, the team is expected to be received by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan at the Foreign Ministry to mark the beginning of a loaded schedule.
While here in Liberia, the TIO will be aiming to design and develop strategies to expand commercial activities in Liberia by increasing the number of small and mid-sized enterprises, grow the volume of imports and exports, and create jobs to boost the government's Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS).
As part of their intensive schedule, Trade Delegation members will meet with relevant partners that will enable investors to survey the Liberian economy, identify market potentials and expand private direct investments.
The team will also meet with several officials of government including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honorable Alex Tyler, the Public Works, Transport, Commerce, Lands, Mines and Energy Ministers and heads of other public agencies including the Roberts International Airport (RIA), Liberia Petroleum Refining Corporation (LPRC), the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC), among others.
The TIO Delegation will also hold investment symposiums that will include the banking sector as led by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) including the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) and the United Bank for Africa (UBA).
The team's visit will also see them traveling to the Firestone Plantations Company, fisheries, and other agro industries in the country. The delegation will also travel to nearby counties which include Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Margibi, Bong and Grand Bassa Counties to meet with superintendents of those counties while those from counties that are not within a day's drive have been invited to Monrovia in order to discuss potential business ventures within their regions.
The TIO has a mandate to coordinate trade affairs and stimulate investments for Liberia within the United States, a country critical to the growth of Liberia's economy.
The ongoing trade mission was organized to provide an impetus to the general objective of the Trade Office in driving investments to Liberia.
Additionally, since the beginning of its operation in 2009, the TIO has implemented a robust strategy to boost investments in Liberia by developing sustained working relationships and fostering strong partnerships with several national and multilateral agencies.
These consist of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States Department of Commerce (USDC), the Pan African Capital Group, LLC, Eco-Power Liberia and BIVAC, among others.