Liberia has Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties with the following countries: BLEU (Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union), France, Germany, and Switzerland. It also has the following Treaties with Investment Provisions (TIPs): Liberia-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA); the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Supplementary Act on Investment; the ECOWAS Energy Protocol; the Cotonou Agreement; the revised ECOWAS Treaty; the African Union (AU) Treaty; and the ECOWAS Protocol on Movement of Persons, Right of Residence, and Establishment. In March 2018, Liberia signed on to the African Continental Free Trade Area and associated Protocol on the Free Movement of People, but the Senate has yet to ratify it.
Liberia has three trade and investment agreements with the United States under which the country has duty-free and preferential trade benefits. It has a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the United States. It enjoys preferential access to the U.S. market under special access and duty reduction programs, such as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The Liberia Chamber of Commerce is the private sector’s point of contact for businesses intending to use AGOA export preferences, but the Chamber reports little interest in AGOA among the Liberian business community.
Many Liberian businesses lack the technical and financial expertise needed to access the U.S. market. Products are not internationally competitive or do not meet U.S. import standards, businesses are undercapitalized, and there is limited access to credit. Liberia is a signatory to several investment-related instruments (IRIs) such as the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) Convention, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Dispute (ICSID Convention), the New York Convention, the United Nations (UN) Code of Conduct on Transnational Corporations, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the International Labor Organization (ILO) Tripartite Declarations on Multinational Enterprises, World Bank Investment Guidelines, and the New International Economic Order UN Resolution. Other international agreements include the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States and Permanent Sovereignty UN Resolution. Along with other ECOWAS member states, Liberia has a free trade agreement – an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) – with the EU, which gradually opens the EU market to ECOWAS countries. It also has a comprehensive timber trade agreement – the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) – with the EU, which aims to control illegal logging and improve forest sector governance.
Liberia and China have a bilateral trade agreement which provides duty-free and quota-free access to China for 99 percent of Liberian goods. However, the agreement is not fully utilized as iron ore is the only Liberian product formally exported to China in quantity. MOCI has institutionalized duty-free stamps for the EU under the “Everything But Arms” agreement and for China under a preferential trade agreement with least developed countries (LDCs).
Liberia has been a member of the WTO since July 2016 when the government entered international obligations to standardize its trade and investment laws and streamline its compliance status consistent with internationally acceptable norms and policies. The Liberia National Trade Policy reiterates the government’s commitment to remaining compliant with the WTO protocols, with emphasis on promoting private sector growth. Liberia has laws that guide different aspects of trade and commerce to ensure business and investment climates are consistent with international standards. These laws include: the Small Business Empowerment Act, the Competition Law, the Intellectual Property Law, the Foreign Trade Law, the Investment Act, the Insolvency Law, and Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Act.