Liberia is a country richly endowed with mineral resources and a favorable climate for agriculture. However, it is still considered one of the poorest countries in the world, owing to political unrest and economic mismanagement. Liberia’s trade also bears the impact of two successive civil wars (1989-96 and 1999-2003). Due to an underdeveloped industrial sector, the country has an unfavorable balance of trade.
Liberia Trade: Exports
According to the 2006 estimates of the CIA World Factbook, Liberia’s exports stand at US$1.197 billion. The country ranks 144 in the world in terms of total export volumes. Due to an underdeveloped industrial sector, Liberia exports highly depend on agricultural productivity. The major items of export for Liberia are rubber, diamond, timber, iron, coffee and cocoa.
India and the US are the largest export partners for Liberia, according to the 2008 figures. Export to India accounts for approximately 21.3%, while export to the US is almost 19.2% of the total trade volume. Other major export partners are Poland, Germany and Belgium.
Liberia’s export trade suffered a serious setback during the civil war in the 1990s. The depleted situation of the wartime economy forced many investors to fly away from the country. Diamond used to be the highest foreign exchange earner for Liberia. However, as the country’s diamond sector was involved with the infamous Blood Diamond episode, the UN imposed an export ban, which was lifted in the year 2007.
Liberia Trade: Imports
Liberia imports stand at US $7.143 billion, according to the 2006 estimates. The country ranks 96 in the world in terms of total import volumes. Being a non-oil producing nation, petroleum products account for the largest share of imports. The country also imports chemicals, heavy machinery, manufactured goods, transportation equipments and food products.
Liberia has healthy trade relations with South-East Asian countries. A large portion of the imports come from these nations. South Korea leads the tally with more than 26% of the total import volume. Singapore accounts for approximately 25% of the imports, followed by Japan, China and Taiwan.
Since the end of the civil war, the government has taken pro-active initiatives to restore the industrial sector in the country. To ensure economic growth, it is essential for the country to diversify its export products.