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Partners optimistic of business in Liberia

Austria Amb Caroline Gudenus NDAustria Ambassador to Liberia, Caroline Gudenus, says her country is glad that Liberia is the first country declared Ebola-freed, which she sees as “a sign that business confidence is coming back” to the West African nation, particularly emphasizing work on the Mount Coffee Hydro Plant as being the first step.

Ambassador Gudenus spoke here Thursday as the first among six different ambassadors that presented letters of credence separately to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, including Italy’s Alfonso DI Riso; Ireland’s Dr. Sinead Walsh; South Korea’s Noh Kyu-duk; Indonesia’s Harry Purwanto and Saudi Arabia’s Saud Bin Saad Al-Thobaiti.

On behalf of their respective governments and peoples, the Ambassadors separately promised to work with Liberia as it recovers from the Ebola outbreak by investing in the private sector, agriculture, construction and power, strengthening diplomatic relationships between their governments and that of Liberia, among others.

Presenting her letter of credence Thursday, Autria’s Ambassador Madam Gudenus said, on the regional level, her country is working with ECOWAS, giving support to regional energy, human rights, rule of law, protection of civilians, and re-enforcement of the role of women, among others.

For his part, Italian Ambassador to Liberia, Mr. Alfonso DI Riso, said his government would like to intervene in two areas of Liberia’s private sector, saying Italian companies coming here would venture into agriculture and construction, respectively.

President Sirleaf recalled that Austria has supported Liberia in so many ways back in the days of late President Tubman, as she paid particular reference to Austria’s supports to resolutions leading to the emancipation of women.
The Liberian leader said she was glad that Australian Ambassador Gudenus mentioned that there was an Austrian company that is helping to restore Liberia’s hydro, expressing hope that this would open the door for other Austrian companies to look at potentials here as government works to develop the private sector.

President Sirleaf recalled that in March 2009, Austria Foreign Minister participated in the international colloquium that brought the world’s women leadership together. Additionally, she said Austria as a member of the European Union, has supported Liberia’s debt relief, and is also supporting the regular programs through the EDF that comes through the European Commission.

“Our Liberian own support of peacekeeping, Austria has been supportive of that through the United Nations; and for Ebola, we want to thank you too – Austria did provide assistance that came through to ECOWAS that has enable us to be successful to be successful in containing the virus,” she said.
In separate interactions with the six ambassadors yesterday, the Liberian leader said her government has been very successful in restoring basic services, settling close to 5 billion external debts that had not been serviced, getting institutions function, restoration of infrastructure and formulation of policies and strategies.

She said the opportunities to diversify the economy are now very strong, as Liberia looks forward to working with all of its partners. Though the Liberian leader said it has not been easy achieving all of the targets envisaged, government has been successful in attracting some investments in the agriculture sector from Indonesia and Malaysia, as she praised achievements in the first segment of the Vision 2030, dubbed Agenda for Transformation or AfT.

President Sirleaf said her administration was doing well with Gross Domestic Product or GDP hitting double digits around 2013 and 2014 when Ebola put a setback on the economy and grossly affected the nation as a whole, particularly at a time there was global decline in iron ore and rubber prices which are Liberia’s major exports.

She concluded that the Ebola crisis undermined Liberia’s economic success as contractors and investors left the country and lot of activities seized or slowed down. But with the support of the international community, President Sirleaf said government has been able to re-embark on gaining what has been lost, particularly emphasizing that investors and contractors that left due to the crisis were returning to programs that were halted. By Winston W. Parley - Editing by Jonathan Browne

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