Commerce Ministry Working To Address Trade deficit
By Hilary Vasco Wiagbe
MONROVIA, Jan. 28 (LINA) -President Ellen Sirleaf says the Ministry of Commerce is exploring ways to address the growing trade deficit and the difficult situation faced by
consumers who are experiencing the negative consequences of the exchange rate depreciation.
President Sirleaf noted that the situation highlights the urgent need to expand the country's export sector and diversify the nation's economy away from traditional exports to new value-added sectors.
According to the Liberia News Agency (LINA), the President spoke Monday when she delivered her ninth State of the Nation before the 53rd National Legislature at the Capitol Building on Capitol Hill on the theme ”Consolidating the Processes of Transformation.”
She stated that the fastest growing sectors are dominated by micro, small and medium-size businesses, located in the service and industrial sectors that are producing beverages, vegetable oils, flour, plastic products, agricultural goods and cement.
President Sirleaf said that new firms established in 2013 are developing value-added goods such as biscuit manufacturing and furniture, naming one of such companies as the TIBA Industrial Group engaged in the manufacturing of a variety of biscuit products.
The Liberian Chief Executive also applauded another Liberian business entity, the National Toiletries Incorporated, venturing in the manufacturing of paper towels, napkins, toilet paper and baby diapers as well as cleaning products.
President Sirleaf also disclosed that in partial response to challenges being faced by local entrepreneurs, the Commerce Ministry is preparing guidelines for scrupulous implementation of Government's decision to direct 25 percent of public procurement of goods and services to Liberian businesses.
She emphasized that the local businesses will be helped by the Liberia Innovation Fund for Entrepreneurs (LIFE), in joint support from budget resources and the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment.
The President further disclosed that efforts are underway for the government to formulate policies and systems to protect consumers from arbitrary price increase and from poor quality goods.
She added that without prejudice to government's commitment to competitive open markets, it is considering ways to help private local industries, which need protection from the influx of competing imports.
President Sirleaf said another measure government is considering is the imposition of a one-year transitional period after which non-Liberians will be restricted to wholesaling, providing retailing opportunities for Liberians only.