Bill Estey, a partner with Torys in Toronto spent four weeks in May/June in Liberia working with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) on a project regarding Liberia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Bill shared some personal thoughts about the impact of his time in Liberia:
"Incredibly, a month in Liberia has come to an end. The time has simply flown by. That is largely because the work here has been so interesting and the days have been extremely busy.
Liberia recently applied to become a member of the WTO. The MOCI does not have any lawyers on staff. My role therefore is to assist by reviewing Liberia’s commercial and trade-related laws and identifying for the Liberian WTO Negotiating Team the various laws that will need to be revised (or enacted) in order to comply with WTO requirements. This has resulted in the preparation of a legislation action plan (LAP) which details which laws need to be amended (or enacted) and in what respects Liberia will need to implement the LAP over the coming years before it can be accepted as a member of the WTO. I will be assisting in this by preparing drafts of various laws referred to in the LAP.
Concurrently with WTO accession, Liberia would like to conduct a full review of all of its commercial laws to ensure that they are up to international standards. This includes their business corporation statutes, partnership laws, commercial code, international dispute resolution mechanisms, anti-money laundering laws and so on. It is a large task. This project was begun in 2009 but had to be suspended due to lack of funds. It now falls to ISLP (and me) to try to fill that gap. It is a terrific opportunity and challenge!!
Today was the time for goodbyes, heartfelt hugs and shaking of hands all round. I will miss the Liberians as much (or more) than they will miss me. I am incredibly impressed by the personal commitment, dedication and enthusiasm I have witnessed on the part of the people I have had the pleasure of working with. They work hard and for long hours to attempt to get this country back on its feet.
The Minister asked me today if I could come back as the WTO process proceeds and I readily accepted. It will definitely be wonderful to return to Canada and my practice at Torys after a month long absence. Nonetheless, I certainly look forward to a return trip some time down the road to continue what has begun. Hopefully, this project will assist, in the long run at least, in improving Liberia’s economic position and development prospects."
Bill Estey and his firm continue to provide long-distance assistance to the MOCI; Many thanks to Torys for their generous support of this project.