Trade Facilitation Forum

Background on the Trade Facilitation Forum

 

The Liberia Trade facilitation Forum is a public and private stakeholders’ forum organized to address issues that are underpinning trade facilitation to ensure trade efficiency within Liberia. 

 

Early Trade Facilitation Initiative in Liberia

 

In 2009, the Trading Across Borders Working Group (TABWG) was initiated and was active up to August 2011. The Liberia Trade Facilitation Forum is a resurgence of the TABWG forum with enhancements that include:

 

  • The inclusion of the Liberia Better Business Forum (LBBF);
  • The introduction of a formal Non-Tariff-Barrier reporting and monitoring mechanism;
  • The establishment of a TFF secretariat to enable improved coordination and action plan progress reporting.

 

Trade facilitation as a public policy involves a wide and diverse range of public agencies performing functions related to cross-border trade.  Trade efficiency requires a series of actions and measures that cover not only the economic, commercial and operational aspects of the international trade transaction (including the movement of goods), but also other issues relating to the facilitation of transport (including the responsibility for goods while in transit).

 

The implementation of these actions and measures implies consideration of the interlinked roles of the three main players closely involved in the trade and transport sectors of the country, who, in one accord, can develop a partnership for growth:

 

  • The Government, in designing and implementing national laws and regulations regarding trade and transport;
  • The Services Providers, by offering market-oriented trade and transport solutions within the framework of national and international trade and transport practices;
  • The Traders, who can benefit from such solutions in their international trade transactions.

To this end, the TFF was structured into three tiers.

 

The top tier consisting of the Ministers of Commerce, Finance and Justice, with the aim to sponsor and drive forward a trade facilitation strategy, monitor progress, and periodically report progress and elimination of non-tariff barriers to the Cabinet.

 

The second tier, appropriately termed the Trade Technical Committee, is composed of representatives of the following organizations, and nominated observers:

 

  • Ministry of Commerce and Industry – role
  • Ministry of Finance – Deputy Minister of Revenue (or designated role)
  • Ministry of Finance – Commission for Bureau of Customs & Excise (or delegated representative)
  • Ministry of Transport – National Ports Authority - role (or delegated representative)
  • Ministry of Justice - Liberia National Police – role (or delegated representative)
  • Liberia Better Business Forum
  • Importers Associations
  • Shippers Associations
  • Liberian Chamber of Commerce
  • National Investment Commission
  • Customs Brokers
  • Truckers Association
  • BIVAC
  • APM Terminals
  • Liberia Trade Policy and Customs Project – observer
  • World Bank Group – Investment Climate Advisory Services – observer
  • Other Observers, as invited to support specific Trade Facilitation solutions

 

The Technical Committee meets on at least monthly and recently concluded its third TFF meeting.

 

The TFF Technical Secretariat forms the third tiers, and shall be composed of one designated technical person each from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Justice, the Liberia Better Business Forum, and the LTPC project which meet once a week to prepare and maintain substantive documentation, such as the agenda, minutes of meetings, the “Elimination of Non-Tariff Barrier Action Plan’, reports as deemed necessary. NTBs involve issues such as corruption, the ineffectiveness of government, the high cost of doing business and ineffective trade policy. The TFF Technical Secretariat meets at least twice a week at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.