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Liberia: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Liberia

Liberian business dress is a relatively formal affair. Even for minor meetings and gatherings appearance is important and seen as an indicator of both character and a show of respect towards others attending. Liberians devote time and effort in appearing smart, clean and groomed. No excuses of travel or climate will be given or taken.

In making contact, the person who is lower in status, calls and approaches those higher. Businesses cards are essential, as is English. Outside of these parameters many things are allowed to be fluid. Time keeping in particular is not seen as important and no offence is meant or will be taken if business people turn up an hour or more late. It is best to ring well in advance, and often, to make sure people are on their way.

Office Hours

Typically Mon-Fri 0800-1700. Banks close at 15:00.

Economy

Liberia's economy depends on viewpoint. For example, up to three quarters of its populations income comes from small agriculture holdings and small boat fishing, even while two thirds of its food is imported. On the other hand most of the profitable sectors: timber, iron ore and commercial farming, are export driven. Corruption and land rights are two constants in the economy and there is a vast difference between the lives of those within the wealthy loop and those without.

The UN & NGO community play a powerful role both in terms of wage distortion and national decision making. Gender inequality impedes progress, especially within the agricultural area where, despite their majority role in producing and processing food, women are rarely found in discussions on major decisions regarding land use or selling.

The surprise is the shipping industry. Over 3,000 vessels sail under the Liberian flag, used as a flag of convenience, making it one of the world's largest shipping registries. This is despite Liberia having few operating ports. Other difficulties such as the high cost of fuel, electricity and internet are balanced against a view of what has been achieved in recent years such as the cancelling of the national debt, the simplifying of the procedure to set up a business to a remarkable two days and the setting up of the first legal process dedicated to contract disputes.

GDP

$1.951 billion (2013)

Main exports

Rubber, iron ore, timber.

Main imports

Petroleum, food, machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods.

Main trading partners

China, South Korea, USA, EU and ECOWAS area.

Keeping in Touch in Liberia

Telephone

The internal network in Monrovia is gradually being extended over the country.

Mobile Phone

Coverage is mostly limited to Monrovia and surrounding areas. There is some coverage along the north and northeastern borders with Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire.

Internet

There are a few Internet cafés in Monrovia and some hotels offer Internet.

Media

Following years of civil war, Liberia's broadcasters and publishers are still struggling to find resources to pay their staff. LBS, the state-run broadcaster has no television service and operates a single radio service, which does not have national coverage. Private television stations include Clar TV, Power TV and Real TV. Many radio stations are run with the support of international agencies, such as UNMIL Radio, which is operated by the United Nations mission.

Post

Airmail to Europe takes up to one month or can be as little as five days with an express mail service provider.