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WTO Members Approve Terms Of Liberia's Membership

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

18 December 2015

World Trade Organization (WTO) members approved the terms of Liberia's accession to the organization on December 16, 2015.

Liberia's President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said the country's "accession to the WTO marks another turning point in our history" and an important step towards meeting Liberia's "aspirations for the growth and development of our people."

Ministers commended Sirleaf for the considerable progress Liberia has made as a least-developed country (LDC) and for its "significant achievement" in completing its WTO accession process.

Following ratification of the membership deal, Liberia would become the 35th LDC WTO member and the eighth LDC to accede to the WTO since 1995. LDCs represent a fifth of the WTO membership.

Liberia will have until June 15, 2016, to ratify the membership deal and would become a full-fledged WTO member 30 days after it notifies the acceptance of its Protocol of Accession to the WTO Director-General.

To join the WTO, Liberia has committed to bind tariff rates for all products on average at 26.7 percent. For agricultural products, this average is 23.8 percent, while for non-agricultural products the average is 27.2 percent.

The membership terms also stipulate that Liberia must establish free trade zones that conform with the provisions of the WTO Agreement.

Liberia has also committed to join the WTO's Information Technology Agreement (ITA), which eliminates tariffs on a number of technology products, such as semiconductors, computers, and telecommunications equipment.

Kenya's President, Uhuru Kenyatta, congratulated Liberia for this achievement. He said: "Liberia's Accession Package provides a platform for continuing domestic reforms and should inspire other African countries in their domestic measures."

Liberia applied for WTO membership in 2007 and members of the Working Party concluded the negotiations on October 6, 2015.

TAGS: tax | Liberia | export duty | tariffs | World Trade Organisation (WTO) | Kenya | import duty | trade | free trade zone | Work | Africa

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