A delegation from the diplomatic community and government have paid a visit to the Freeport of Monrovia to observe how timber logs are exported out of the country. The visit was to give Port stakeholders and the diplomatic community the opportunity to witness the loading and export of logs which by international shipment standards, require that they (logs) are verified, have the requisite export permit and can be tracked.
From the diplomatic side, the delegation was led by the UK Ambassador to Liberia, His Excellency Neil Bradley, and the Head of Delegation of the European Union to Liberia, Ambassador Laurent Delahousse.
From government, Deputy Minister for Commerce and Trade, Hon George D. Wollo, and the Wharfinger Freeport of Monrovia, Department of Customs, Liberia Revenue Authority, Ms. Davidetta Doe, led the delegation.
For APM Terminals Liberia, the visit allowed the company to demonstrate that all logs being handled at the Terminal have been legally harvested and certified for export and as well show its capabilities in handling complex cargo safely and efficiently.
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Since June 2022, APM Terminals Liberia has served as the port of export for 15, 142.831 cubic metres of logs. This shipment observed by the delegation is made up of 6,500 cubic metres of logs, bringing the total volume of logs handled at the Port since June to about 22, 000 cubic metres.
Receiving the delegation on behalf of APM Terminals Liberia, General Cargo Business Partner, Mr. Christian B. Freeman narrated the purpose of the visit.
“The opportunity to handle logs in our Terminal is an economic opportunity for Liberia as well as we ensure that all lawful revenues due government goes to government. But the process involves compliance with standards and the collaboration of stakeholders. We are using today’s event to show our compliance with these standards and processes” Mr. Freeman explained.
Deputy Minister for Commerce and Trade, Hon. George D. Wollo used the opportunity to call for a central assembly point for all export items leaving the country. According to him, this will allow government to accurately capture and track what is being exported in order to get the needed revenue that must accrue to government.
“I think that government should be encouraged to establish an assembling point for export; a pre-export location that allows the government to capture all that is being exported out of the country. In that way, we will be able to generate data for revenue purposes. We will be working along with NPA and APM Terminals Liberia who already have expertise in this” Hon. Wollo remarked.
Giving his remarks after the observation event, UK Ambassador, H.E. Neil Bradley said “sustainable forestry management requires strict compliance with controls on the export of timber. Strong governance in the forestry sector will help ensure that Liberia receives valuable timber export revenue, safeguards her precious forests for the long term, and benefits from international climate finance to support Liberia’s wider development. In furtherance of this, the UK government has provided over $22 million since 2011 to support forestry governance in Liberia according to Ambassador Bradley.
The Head of Delegation of the European Union to Liberia, Ambassador Laurent Delahousse said the visit has shown that the procedures for the export of timber at the Port of Monrovia appear to be thorough and compliant with international standards.
Ambassador Delahousse commented; “the EU is a major partner of the Forestry Development Authority and the Liberian government. The visit today for us has been very enlightening as it demonstrates that timber export in bulk at this Port is thorough, well organized and involves the contribution of all stakeholders. We need assurances that the same goes for exports from other Liberian ports as well as for the timber exported in containers.”
Timber trade was greatly affected by the civil crisis with the international trade community placing sanctions on the export of this commodity from Liberia. With these sanctions now lifted, stakeholders have been working together to ensure strict adherence to processes and standards that must be followed, hence this visit by the diplomatic community and a section of government leadership.
The resumption of timber export at the Freeport of Monrovia apart from generating revenue for government also brings relief to logging customers trucking from the western parts of the country (Gbarpolu, Lofa, Bomi) who can now easily access the Freeport of Monrovia for business instead of trucking their logs to Buchanan, Sinoe and other far away Ports.