The Executive Order, issued by President George Manneh Weah, mentioned that the rubber sector of Liberia has been greatly affected by abuse, misuse, and theft over the period. Therefore, in order to curb the situation, the government believes that further strategy is necessary so that proper policies can be developed and an appropriate institutional and regulatory framework can be established to curb retrogression, sustain the development of the industry, and stimulate growth.
The policy was signed by President George M. Weah in November 2023.
“From the date of this Executive Order, there shall be no exportation of unprocessed natural rubber from Liberia until otherwise advised,” the executive order declared. “Unprocessed natural rubber shall be defined as the raw material tapped from rubber trees, not having gone through any processing to change its physical or chemical composition; or natural latex, coagulum, cup lump, tree lace, bark scrap, ground scrap, and any other form of unprocessed or processed natural rubber (including concentrated latex and dry rubber produced or derived from the latex produced by rubber trees).”
The order said that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Finance, or any other government agency shall not issue or authorize the issuance of any export permit for unprocessed natural rubber from Liberia.
“That within 30 days of the issuance of this Executive Order, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, shall make a special effort to provide access to domestic markets for Liberian rubber farmers in remote areas who rely primarily on cross-border trade in unprocessed natural rubber,” it read.
It further mentioned that all customs officers and law enforcement authorities at points of entry and exit to and from the Republic of Liberia, whether by land, sea, or air, shall stop and prohibit the exportation of all consignments of unprocessed natural rubber from the Republic of Liberia.
“That transporting or moving unprocessed natural rubber outside of rubber plantations between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. shall be prohibited. Individuals found transporting or moving unprocessed natural rubber during those hours shall be stopped by the plant protection force or law enforcement authorities. Any person found to be in violation of this Executive Order shall be prosecuted by the Ministry of Justice, the Executive Order said.
Firestone, the largest rubber planter in Liberia, is the major buyer of unprocessed rubber. The company has possessed a monopoly on the market over the years. However, some time ago, the company stopped the purchase and shipment of huge quantities of rubber due to capacity issues.
The Executive Director of the Rubber Development Fund (RDF), Julius Sele, says the ban on the exportation of unprocessed natural rubber by the Liberian government is something welcoming.
He said the move will stimulate economic growth in the rubber sector, thereby improving the livelihood of small scale farmers and contributing immensely to the government’s revenue.
According to him, this is also going to reduce criminality in the rubber sector and create competition among concessions that are venturing into or doing processing.
“We can’t continue to have people exporting rubber. It is depriving the government of the needed revenues and income generation for local processors,” he said.
Sele explained that the moratorium on the exportation of rubber will create competition in the rubber sector.
“This policy will not only allow Firestone to buy rubber from farmers as perceived, but other concessions will have the opportunity for purchase,” he said.
Nevertheless, the RPI Executive Director revealed that stakeholders had since called on the government to renew the Executive Order, but the government has delayed reinstituting it.
In 2008, the government, to remediate the decline in the rubber sector due to theft, issued Executive Order No. 16. But since that time, the situation facing the rubber sector has continued, and the government has failed to take action.
Source: Daily Observer