Liberia: Country and Foreign Investment
This page was last updated on 10 April 2021.
Liberia lies on the southwest coast of West Africa and has an area of 111,369 sq km (43,000 sq mi.) There are direct flights from Roberts International Airport (on the outskirts of the capital, Monrovia) to Europe and North America.
The American Colonization Society established a colony of freed slaves on the west coast of Africa in the 1820s, with an aim to create a republic; by 1840 a number of these colonies had united in a commonwealth. Relatively few in number, the Liberian settlers invited indigenous African tribes to participate in the economy. Eventually the migrants outnumbered the colonists; now, descendants of the original settlers make up no more than 5% of the total population of just over 5 million (April 2021 estimate.)
Liberia has plentiful mineral resources, forests and a climate favourable to agriculture; exports include raw timber, rubber, diamonds, iron ore, coffee and cocoa. The fairly small manufacturing sector is mostly foreign-owned. External confidence in the key diamond extraction industry is strong, with Canadian company Diamond Fields leading foreign investment.
Liberia's greatest success story, however, has been its shipping registry. Currently it is the world's second largest registry.
Foreign companies can operate in Liberia through local agents, a local corporation or a branch. The business climate is very liberal. There are no statutory foreign exchange controls in Liberia, and money may generally be freely remitted into and out of the country. There is a dual system of statutory law based on Anglo-American common law for the modern sector and customary law based on unwritten tribal practices for the indigenous sector. Non-resident companies, i.e. those with external ownership, are not subject to taxation.
Liberia reached its heavily indebted poor countries initiative completion point in 2010 and nearly US$5 billion of international debt was permanently eliminated. From 2014 to 2016, the Ebola virus took its toll, and since early 2020, Liberia has suffered from the impact of Coronavirus, though mercifully the number of casualties has been low.