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Ambassador Marantis Continues Work to Spur Economic Development in Liberia Through Trade

Today, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis completed two productive and exciting days in Liberia. On Thursday, Liberian Trade Minister Miatta Beysolow met Ambassador Marantis to go through the status of the U.S.-Liberia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Minister Beysolow and her colleagues updated Ambassador Marantis on Liberia’s plans to accede to the World Trade Organization and take greater advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

After their meeting, both officials toured the Liberian government’s new standards testing laboratories. Once operational, these laboratories will help Liberia apply international standards to all aspects of their economy.

Later that morning, Ambassador Marantis made remarks at a public forum hosted by the U.S. Embassy, in which he highlighted the AGOA apparel visa that U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk recently granted to Liberia. The apparel visa is a major positive development in our bilateral trade relationship and will allow Liberian apparel producers, for the first time, to export to the United States duty free under AGOA. Ambassador Marantis also discussed Liberia’s investment climate in meetings with major American investors, as well as key Liberian officials at the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs and the National Investment Commission.

On Friday, Marantis saw up close the actual and potential benefits of Liberian exports to the United States. First, he visited Africa Hot Foods – a producer of Liberian pepper sauce. The facility uses locally grown peppers and serves as a great example of possible value added agricultural exports from Liberia. Later that morning, Ambassador Marantis toured the Liberian Women’s Sewing Project, a cooperative established by Liberian-American entrepreneur Chid Liberty that produces and exports apparel to the United States under AGOA.

The project is the first to take advantage of the AGOA apparel visa.

Finally, Ambassador Marantis and Minister Beysolow visited the village of Brewerville, outside Monrovia, and site of a production facility for Falika’s Fashions. Owned by Rebecca Falika, a Liberian-American producer of high-end apparel, Falika’s has a showroom in Falls Church, Virginia, and sales throughout the United States. The village of Brewerville welcomed Ambassador Marantis with traditional song and dance, as well as a “gowning” ceremony presided over by village elders.