LCC’s SG Serves as Panelist at the Trade and Investment High Level Forum
The Secretary General of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce Ms. Stephanie SalaMartu Duncan recently attended and served as panelist at the Trade and Investment High Level Forum held on November 2-3, 2017 in Abuja Nigeria. The Federal Government of Nigeria and the ECOWAS Commission in partnership with the WTO Friends of Investment Facilitation for Development (FIFD) sponsored the Forum.
The Forum created a platform for African investment and trade decision makers, and key private sector representatives to discus the challenges and explore opportunities through exchanges and shared experiences. The key goal of the forum was to explore ways the WTO could contribute to facilitating required investment and trade.
During the 2-day event, Ms. Duncan was a panelist on Entrepreneurs and MSMEs - Trade. The panel session presented a discussion on the importance and critical role of entrepreneurs and MSMEs in trade. Ms. Duncan spoke on some of the challenges faced by Liberian MSMEs such as access to finance, weak infrastructure, lack of trade data, and the lack of capacity, due to the 20+ years of civil conflict, which left a gap in education and the exodus of skilled professionals during the crisis.
The Liberian Chamber of Commerce Secretary General also highlighted some of the significant gains Liberia has made at the macro level due to large part of the government initiated policy changes to improve the ease of doing business and trade. International and regional Trade Agreements such as Liberia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the signing of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) have been a welcoming tool for those who understand the benefit of it.
“There is need for more market analysis especially within the region,” Ms. Duncan stated. “Remember, we’ve been trading for decades, however, where is the data? It’s easier for businesses to obtain trade data about Europe and the US than our neighboring countries.”
Ms. Duncan praised the Government of Liberia for issuing the first the 1st National Policy on MSME, which aims to increase the flow of capital to MSMEs, enhance the skills of small business owner/managers, build the productivity of MSMEs, increase underserved groups’ access to economic opportunities, and broaden underserved groups’ access to resources needed to respond to economic opportunities.
Attending the event were: Vice President of Nigeria, H.E. Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (who is also Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Management Team); Minister Axel Addy, Liberia’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry; Dep. Minister Steve Marvie, Liberia Ministry of Commerce and Industry; UNCTAD Secretary General, Gen. Mikhusa Kituyi; World Economic Forum’s President, Borge Bende; ECOWAS Commission President, Marcel Alain De Souze; And Heads and Senior Management representatives of some of the leading companies such as Vodacom, Huawei Industries, and Procter and Gamble, and Dangote.