Domestic and Foreign Market Access

The Republic of Liberia is classified as a low-income country, which is transitioning from post-conflict reconstruction to long-term economic development with an ambitious vision of achieving middle-income status by 2030. The country has focused on reconstructing critical infrastructure and maintaining peace, which have resulted in significant success and reforms; however, Liberia's private sector-led economic growth is still lagging. The country set up the medium term economic growth and development strategy between 2012 and 2017 that addresses energy and road infrastructure deficit; micro risks including clarity and security of property rights; difficulties for new activities to emerge that need different inputs and skills than those available; and limited access to credit, especially long term.

African Development Bank, 2013, Liberia Country Strategy Paper 2013-2017

Trade Policy and Market Access

Liberia applied for an accession to the WTO in 2007. The accession process has taken place rather slowly because it is a Least Developed Country (LDC) in which the economy was impaired by the long-lasting civil war. Several trade-related technical assistance and capacity-building programmes have been undertaken through, for example, the WTO’s Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) and the African Development Bank. In 2012, Liberia’s average MFN applied tariff was 10.2 per cent. Agricultural exports into the country (10.7 per cent) were slightly higher compared to non-agricultural exports (10.1 per cent). In order to align with the regional common external tariff and the WTO accession requirements, the country is expected to lower tariffs and eliminate non-tariff barriers. Liberia is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Mano River Union (MRU) but its trade with regional markets is below the average for the sub-region mainly due to infrastructure deficits and trade policy (African Development Bank 2013). Since 2011, Liberia has attained preferential market access to the U.S. market through the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and to the EU market through the Voluntary Partnership Agreement.

U.S. Commercial Service, 2013, Doing Business in Liberia: 2013 Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies

Standard Compliance and Other Relevant Import/Export Restrictions

Although the country benefits from preferential market access schemes such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the country needs to develop capacity to meet quality and safety requirements in order to take advantage of export opportunities. The Liberian government opened the National Standards Laboratory (NSL) in 2011 to meet the requirements under Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade and Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosasnitary (SPS) Measures. The government is also testing a calibration facility for food and non-food products. As the food safety, animal and plant health system in Liberia has been weak, the laboratory has put a focus on enhancing the SPS system in Liberia by preventing importation of counterfeit and sub-standards goods that may threaten public, animal, or plant health as well as assuring food and agriculture products to meet international standards (U.S. Commercial Service 2013).

Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Liberia, 2013, Overview of the National Standards Laboratory