Vice President Boakai Addresses Chinese Chamber of Commerce

Friday, 10th July 2009

Beijing, China - Liberia’s Vice President, Joseph N. Boakai, says Liberia needs the Chinese business community’s partnership in sustaining economic growth and improved quality of life in the post-war nation.

Addressing a China-Liberia Trade and Investment Seminar hosted by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Beijing on July 9, Vice President Boakai observed that the Chinese government is a strategic partner in Liberia’s reconstruction endeavors.

He said Liberia was gratified that are already huge Chinese private sector investments in the country, including the over USD$2 billion China Union Mineral Agreement and CHICO, which is
reconstructing Liberia’s road network.

“Almost every month, many Liberians travel to your country for Chinese made products for marketing in Liberia. Chinese experts and craftsmen are today working with Liberians on road projects, furniture making, hotel management and the service industry, and in several other aspects of the Liberian economy,” Vice President Boakai noted.

He said trade and commerce between the two countries has positively impacted the lives of peoples of the two countries, and assured that the Liberian Government would continue to explore means to further strengthen the links that exist between both economies.

The Liberian Vice President said Liberia is endowed with rich natural resources, including gold, iron ore, diamond, timber, a fertile soil for agricultural opportunities, and fishing, among others, that could prove pivotal for Shanghai’s front-runner status as Asia’s epicenter of trade and finance.

“What our Government seeks to achieve are partnerships based on international cooperation and mutual interest, especially in our traditional sectors of economic growth, and to rebuild our infrastructure which will improve the quality of life of our people, and maintain stability in the post-war country, “ Vice President Boakai pointed out.

He said Liberia is at the crossroads in its reconstruction and development program, the success of which are tied to human security, strengthening protection and promoting democracy, adding, “Our natural resources are only as good as they serve as catalysts to spur our development.”

He told the Chinese Chamber of Commerce that Liberia’s economic policy is based on the Free Enterprise System, with the market the principal determinant.

The Vice President said there is a lot that Liberia and the People’s Republic of China can achieve together, adding,  “The recent global economic downturn has demonstrated how critically we need to forge a united approach in solving the problems that plague us.”

The Liberian Vice President used the occasion to laud the vibrant ties China has developed with Liberia over the last several years, adding, “The outpouring of Chinese assistance to the Government and people of Liberia demonstrates the confidence the Chinese government  reposes in the current leadership and its ability to utilize the assistance fully.”

Seven of the 39 companies that attended the forum--including China-Union Investment Company which last year signed a USD$2 billion agreement to mine the iron ore reserve in the Bong Mines Range in central Bong County; as well as Sinohydro; ZTE, which has invested an estimated USD$7 million in the revamping of the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LIBTELCO); New Era International Inc.--either expressed interest or renewed their commitment to do business in Liberia.

In introductory remarks, the Secretary General of the China-Africa Joint Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Bian Hong Deng, disclosed that trade between China and Liberia in the first half of 2009 totaled USD$400 million, an increase of 75% over the figure for 2008. He said China attaches great importance to trade relations with Liberia and ECOWAS as a whole, and said China looked forward to the further strengthening of trade ties with Liberia.