KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY HONORABLE JOSEPH NYUMA BOAKAI, SR. VICE PRESIDENT, REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA AT THE LIBERIAN BUSINESS FORUM AT GREENBERG TRAURIG, L.L.P. 2001 MARKET STREET PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA FRIDAY, APRIL 14, 2017

  • KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY HONORABLE JOSEPH NYUMA BOAKAI, SR. VICE PRESIDENT, REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA AT THE LIBERIAN BUSINESS FORUM AT GREENBERG TRAURIG, L.L.P. 2001 MARKET STREET PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA FRIDAY, APRIL 14, 2017

     

    The Honorable Representative of the Mayor of the City of Philadelphia;

    Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell;

    State, County and Other Municipal Officials Present;

    The illustrious Chairman of the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs;

    President Christopher Selekpoh and the Leadership of the Liberian Association of Pennsylvania;

    Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

     

    It is always a good feeling to be in this great City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.

    This City, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a whole, has served our people with such hospitality and generosity that we lack words to adequately express our gratitude. No doubt Liberians feel so comfortable here.

    Let it suffice, therefore, for me to again re-echo our gratitude, on behalf of the Liberian nation and people, and a big thank you to the leadership of this beautiful City, the Governor and the state executives for all the favors you have so unreservedly accorded our citizens for the past several decades.

    I was here with you back in June of 2013, and, in similar vein, to arouse greater interest of the people of this City, particularly those entrepreneurs who desire to explore wider vistas of opportunities for productive investment and lasting personal relationships, in engaging Liberia.

    As in the case of my last rendezvous with you, today’s is a function that focuses on exploring avenues for the mobilization of the needed investment resources.

    This is in hopes of helping our drive for rehabilitating and enhancing the overall socio-economic and security enhancement of Liberia, while at the same time yielding greater dividends to the investors.

    Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

     

    Our President, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, extends warmest felicitations and best wishes to you, and asked that I convey to you her hope to sometime soon receive some of you in Monrovia, as you make that move to explore the opportunities we pivot to you here today.

     

    I should again take the pleasure to inform you that in Liberia, our Government has embarked upon a thoughtfully crafted Agenda for Transformation.  Liberia’s Vision 2030, launched a few years ago in December of 2012, sets us on an irreversible trajectory, propelled by our collective resolve to lift our people unto loftier heights. The realization of this Vision inarguably will be greatly helped by healthy and productive partnerships, especially from capable and friendly sources as can be found here.

     

    Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Partners;

     

    We in Liberia come again to reecho the fact that our doors have been deliberately kept open, and we have enacted business laws that are particularly friendly to foreign investment, bilateral cooperation, as well as international interventions.  We did so to encourage a friendly foreign investment environment.

     

    Our Government sees limitless possibilities in the expansion and deepening of relationship in this country, covering the areas of trade, economics, security, governance, health, and education. Within that operational context, I cannot but only entertain the great hope that a high profile collection of this fine audience will venture to explore mutual interactions that will encourage partners to visit us in Liberia, even if just for deeper familiarization.

     

    A good swath of sectors in the Liberian economy is highly suited to foreign investment, particularly from investors who come from countries that are endowed with high technological know-how and the size of capital. Such investment can set our sectors like Agriculture, Energy, Mining/Drilling, tourism and Infrastructure on the right course while at the same time providing profitable returns.

     

    In fact, we recently launched the Liberia Agricultural Transformation Agenda (LATA), a new policy framework and vision for developing agriculture and agribusiness, directly supported by the highest leadership of our Country. The primary focus of the LATA is to support value addition in agriculture (through financing, public goods, market access).

    This time the focus is on strategic investment, both domestic & foreign, in value chains plus downstream processed goods.

     

    In manufacturing, we seek to expand electricity distribution; link creative financing for Major Small Medium Enterprise and commercially viable businesses.  Liberia, being such an investment friendly country, has aggressively created an atmosphere conducive to investment.Let us briefly look at Liberia’s tax regime and Investment incentives…for example:

     

    • Liberia’s Profit Tax Rate is 25% or 2% on turnover.
    • We have very limited capital controls and 100% of profit is available for repatriation.
    • 30% incentive deduction allowed on up to 100% of qualifying cost of equipment & machinery for investors over $1million US dollars.
    • You can also obtain a tax deduction of 10% off cost of building & fixtures used in manufacturing process that produced finished products having 60% local raw material.
    • Investments in economically deprived zones, or those generating more than 100 direct jobs qualify for additional incentives of up to 12.5% & further 10% respectively

     

    And most of you are aware that for a few years now, Liberia has been nursing an emerging oil industry, coming on the heels of the discovery of deep water oil reserves off our shores. Liberia’s seismic data have been hailed by hydrocarbon experts. Confidence in our oil prospects has been bolstered by the signing of Product Sharing Agreements with international oil giants such as, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, African Petroleum and Anardaco.

     

    As a country blessed with 45 percent of the natural forest in West Africa, the development of ecotourism is a great opportunity.  We have pristine lagoons and several hundred miles of golden sand beaches, ready for development; not forgetting investment in Energy, Hospitals & clinics; Housing, Transportation; IT,  Banking, Agriculture, Fisheries,  Agro-Processing, and banking.

     

    We have also made it easier to start a business in Liberia with the establishment of the Liberia Business Registry.  The LBR is a One-Stop-Shop for enterprise development that formalizes enterprises in only 48 hours.  Registration can be done through:

     

    • E-registration: after receiving account details applicant submits dossier online.
    • Assisted registration: applicants submit paper-based dossier to the LBR staff who undertakes the registration procedures.

     

    And in all this, staff members are on hand to provide advice to applicants.

     

    Entrepreneurs, Partners;

     

    You can see that the investment climate in Liberia is quite attractive and suitable for investment in both trade and industry.  Simply put, the overriding objective is to attract more Foreign Direct Investment in all the sectors, but primarily in the agriculture and manufacturing.

     

    We seek to roll out key economic, trade and investment opportunities that yield mutual benefits. Our Trade Mission here, working in league with the Mayor’s Commission, should be eager to facilitate such information sharing drive.

     

    I come with great optimism that this visit will yield great dividends for advancing very rewarding investments in Liberia. It is against this backdrop that we view the coming presidential and representative elections in our country as carrying high stakes.

     

    It is imperative that this climate of peace and stability continues to prevail if we are to consolidate and further expand our gains. We have gone to great lengths to build a tolerant and democratic governance system in a country that was once considered a failed state in the west coast of Africa.

     

    Today, Liberia has become a destination for all categories of people with various purposes. Liberia is now peaceful and poised for investment. The invitation to you, therefore, still stands for you to visit us in Liberia to afford you the vantage view of the situation yourselves.

     

    We have no doubts that such visit will afford you the opportunity to see and experience for yourselves some of the areas explored with you here today.

     

    As I usually assure, please know that we will be waiting with outstretched arms to warmly receive you in Monrovia.

     

    I thank you for your attention.

     

     

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