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    New Trade and Investment Agency in Sierra Leone

     

     
     
    International Trade Forum - Issue 2/2007, © International Trade Centre

    In its post-war efforts to revitalize exports, Sierra Leone has set up a new trade promotion authority, the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency.

    The initiative is part of a larger reform process to make it easier to do business in Sierra Leone, supported by the World Bank, ITC and the Government of the United Kingdom. Tax and land registration reform, simpler business start-up procedures and better customs administration are also on the agenda.

    The new agency aims to raise awareness in the international community about Sierra Leone, as both a producer and an investment destination. It will focus on improving the quality of traditional exports and look into new export sectors. This will now be matched by expertise to guide investment decisions.

    "This is part of a general effort to improve the business climate, remove bureaucratic hurdles and increase transparency," said Philip Williams of ITC, a member of the team working to set up the new agency.

    The success in creating the agency, he adds, is due to its champion, Dr Kadi Sesay, the Minister of Trade and Industry, whose efforts have been backed up by a team from ITC and the World Bank's Multilateral Investment Agency (MIGA) and Foreign Investment Advisory Service (FIAS). The process of legislative reform was based on extensive consultations with ministers and parliamentarians.

    The new trade promotion authority will put a number of recommendations from MIGA and ITC studies into practice. The studies' key proposals included high-level government commitment, a greater private sector orientation, more autonomy, adequate funding and carefully selected and trained staff. Critical to the success of the new agency will be continued government funding and technical support not only for start-up but also in its early years. The UK's Department for International Development is funding the project, and ITC and the World Bank will continue to provide technical support.

    Contributors: Julie-Anne Lee, Philip Williams and Natalie Domeisen, ITC.




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