Liberian Presidential Candidate, Former UN Envoy, Winston A. Tubman Meets with The Washington, DC Chamber of Commerce to encourage private U.S. investment in Liberia

"I call on this Chamber, to consider deploying a trade and investment mission of CEO's to Liberia to study and explore the possibilities of speedily rebuilding.
I hope to be the President that will host you on such an important mission. I encourage you to support our rebuilding."---Winston A. Tubman

On May 17, Liberian Presidential Candidate and Former UN Envoy, Ambassador Winston A. Tubman held discussions with the President and Officers of the Washington, DC Chamber of Commerce. Also in attendance at the meeting was the Deputy Mayor of the District of Columbia, the Honorable Stanley Jackson. Ambassador Tubman used the opportunity to discuss the current state of Liberia, and the need to re-affirm Liberia's relationship with the US private sector and investment community. Ambassador Tubman views this as a critical step in process of rebuilding Liberia. The DC Chamber of Commerce has an impressive membership which includes: Citibank, Morgan Stanley, Fannie Mae, Ernst and Young, KPMG, Xerox, T Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, and the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Agriculture, and Treasury.

Below are the full remarks Ambassador Tubman submitted to the DC Chamber of Commerce:

May 17, 2005


Thank you very much for the kind invitation extended me to speak here today. I am delighted to be here. I thank your President Barbara Lang, the Board of Directors and members of the Chamber of Commerce for this opportunity to speak
here concerning Liberia as she transitions from war to peace and becomes once more a leading ally and trading partner of the United States in Africa. Let me also thank the members of my delegation who have joined me from all over this country and from Liberia .

My special thanks to Bob Maloney for facilitating this promising relationship between Liberia and this Chamber, as we contemplate and prepare for the great and challenging work of rebuilding The Republic of Liberia; a country that is dear to and cherishes long historical ties with the United States and the American people.

Liberia is very dear to me and to all of us. It is a land of resilient people, with unbreakable spirits and it has abundant resources. Liberia once again as in the past seeks a meaningful and enduring partnership with the people of this
country starting with this dynamic Chamber of Commerce in the U.S. capital. Today, I would like to talk for a moment about the American response, in particular your response as business leaders to what is shaping up in Liberia : a vibrant democracy on the African horizon.

Now, what will the role of trade and investment be in the new era dawning in Liberia . Will there be a role for explosion in information technology? For communications on the internet? Linking our agriculture and people in a global economic infrastructure?

How will this totally new horizon change what Liberia has been through in the last 25 years? And to go back even further, how will these things change what Liberia has been through in the last 186 years, dating back to 1819 when your Congress provided $100,000 for establishing a land of liberty on the west coast of Africa?

From the early 1800's Liberia and the United States have had unique relationship. This land on the West Coast of Africa was founded as a result of the coming together of the indigenous Africans and African Americans from America.

This collaboration served as one of the first early social-business models for community development and global relations. It was an historic initiative taken by the peoples of both our countries and your leaders to include Presidents James Monroe and Andrew Jackson, as well as Daniel Webster, Francis Scott Key, Henry Clay and George Washington's nephew, Bushrod. Liberia was a catalyst for what we see in the world today as nation building.

In 1847, Liberia became the first independent African republic. Liberians patterned their constitution, flag, place names, and architecture on U.S. models. Today, five percent of Liberia 's population is descended from settlers.
The remainder of the population of 3.3 million people comes from 16 ethnic groups. Liberia was a key U.S. ally during World War Two, when Liberian territory was used as a re-supply center for the campaign in North Africa . During the Cold War, Liberia served as a relay station for Voice of America broadcasts, for tracking shipping, and for communications surveillance.
The relationship between our two countries was strengthened by the creation of the Liberian Shipping Registry (LISCR), which today is the world's second largest maritime registry with offices right here in Vienna , Virginia . Today, there are over 2000 vessels in the registry representing 59.3 million gross tons.

The founding of Liberia in 1847 represented the conversion of America 's racial conflict and foreign policy. For us, Liberians, it created a social, economic and political engagement that has lasted throughout our existence with great triumphs and failures. Today, we are once again at that intersection. This time, we must fully connect it.

For more than 100 years our country has been moving toward more global trade. In the mid 20 the century, at the beginning of the 1980's we demonstrated sound export capabilities achieving over half a billion dollars a year. Our imports were valued at nearly a quarter of a billion dollars. At the height of World War II , Liberia 's was a major source of rubber that came from plantations as established by Firestone. The rubber production proved valuable for the allies, particularly after Japan cut the Pacific route to Asian rubber. Liberia became one of the world's largest producers of rubber. Today, it produces rubber to the
value of $100m U.S. in annual export earnings.

During World War II, the U.S. interest in supplying planes to Britain led the U.S. War Department to urge Pan American Airlines to establish commercial service to Liberia and in 1941 Firestone built Robertsfield (later Roberts International Airport , RIA) which PanAm used to ferry allied troops from the US to Brazil , and on to the Near East .

The relationship and activities between the two countries led to a signature act; the 1942 defense agreement which among other things included the U.S. dollars replacing the British pound as the country's currency and Liberia's eligibility for lend-lease assistance which included plans for building a port.
This was followed by U.S. encouragement of Private American and other Western investment in the country. These investments included our maritime program, which began in 1948. It remains a major source of revenue for Liberia.
Other private enterprises followed with respect to the country's iron ore deposits. Substantial foreign investment continued and in the 1960's and 1970's the country was one of the world's largest iron ore exporters.

Regrettably, the last 25 years have brought about a huge national decline in Liberia . A civil war has left over 300,000 dead and many more wounded. The lack of credible governments over the past years has resulted in massive economic
downturns and considerable social adversity. The continuing shift in global policies and interests has had a less than favorable outcome in our relationships with world partners.

The last 25 years have changed not only Liberia . The world as a whole has changed; shift in global policies, altered global relations and redefinition of global interests have been the order of the day. Of course, there is the information revolution. It has changed everything.

Today, the world is driven by ideas and imagination, the information technology has virtually collapsed the meaning of distance. It has made the human mind and ideas even more important than riches in the ground. So what does that mean?
What does it mean for you; what does it mean for us?

Well, first of all, we still need a credible government. That's why I am running for President. Government policies still matters. So your government, my government, any government of any nation that wants to grow wealthier has to have the basics right -- managing the economy well, keeping the markets open, establishing the rule of law, creating a good climate for investment and creating opportunities for all of its people to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

As we reach for this new era of democracy on the African horizon in Liberia , we must change perspectives. Our nation's natural resources are not insubstantial. The spirit of our human resources is today stronger than ever before. No decline can exhaust the great potential that our country has been blessed with. To move from a decline to an incline, leadership is required and relationships such as we seek to build with you are vital. We intend to grow a new human capital. Liberians have been exposed to systems and structures around the world in their displacement and resettlement, particularly in this country. Liberians in Liberia have had to become increasingly resilient and innovative in order to survive the conditions of the civil war. To use these two human possibilities so as to bring about national success, leadership is required and relationships are vital.

To prevent the return of civil conflict we should use our natural resources to benefit our country and all of its citizens as well as to serve our relationships with global partners. Liberia has plentiful water, mineral resources, forests, and a climate favorable to agriculture. Agriculture today represents nearly 77% of our national economy. While the manufacturing sector
has remained our Achilles heel, we have served the world as an exporter of raw timber, diamonds, iron ore, coffee and cocoa. To sustain even greater possibilities in utilizing our endowment, leadership is required and relationships with partners are vital.

Now, if we do our part, and for me my part is to first be elected President, then you as prospective trading and investment partners and the wealthier countries of the world, especially, must do their part, as well. We have a joint special responsibility to act. Liberians must act to end once and for all the destructive divisions between descendants of the settlers and their indigenous kinsmen.

We call on you to act in your capacity as business leaders of America to help us realize this objective. You are the embodiment and extension of American democracy and you must assist Liberia , an America creation to help and promote American values and ideals in Liberia ; and by that example; success throughout the rest of Africa.
We are confident of the new all-inclusive leadership we are preparing to b ring to bear for the realization of a more equitable political dispensation in Liberia and have faith in the relationships you can provide. The coming together of the two ensures that the prospects of our nation remains strong and its possibilities will speedily becomes even brighter.

So, I will say again, we're committed to doing our part, especially by ending once and for all practices that went along with the absence of democracy. We should do so not only because a lot of our national endowment went into the wrong hands, but also because it wasn't reinvested in our country. This reinvestment will help us to diversify our economy.

This means, among other things, that we have to rebuild our infrastructure as well as make our agriculture sector more efficient. Most of our people especially those in rural areas don't have access to clean water.

It means that we have to broaden access to education; our school enrollment levels greatly impaired by the long period of war ad displacement must be made more nearly for the first time in our history, universal. It means we have to dramatically broaden access to information technology; and increase the number of people in the country who have direct access to the Internet.

The point I'm trying to make here is, it's not true that poor people in poor countries can't make their lives better or make more money out of information technology, or can't have access to better education. It is not true. As Liberians emerges from civil war we should grasp the opportunity at hand to move the country forward and faster by maybe 10, 20, 30 years than you could move otherwise with any other economic opportunity. But we have to spread out development throughout the country. Liberia can become the new frontier of peace, development and modernity in Africa with American assistance. We have got
to do what is now called bridging the economic and digital divide. And we believe you can help do that.

I think our case is a compelling case. Because, Liberia under the coming new leadership will be a very different country, with very different priorities. We will stay on the path of political reconciliation and economic reform; and when that happens, I believe that we will be able to work with you as partners to move more aggressively in lifting up our country. I believe we can and must together do that.

It has to be done. And I intend to lead the effort. I call on this Chamber, to consider deploying a trade and investment mission of CEO's to Liberia to study and explore the possibilities of speedily rebuilding. I hope to be the President that will host you on such an important mission. I encourage you to support our rebuilding. You have to be willing, as American business people, to stand courage in trade and investment with Liberia . Rich rewards will be reaped.

When it comes to Liberia , because the civil conflict is still fresh in people's memory, some people will say why are we trading and investing there? Why are you spending on healthcare? Why spend on education? Why are you spending on clean
water? Why are you spending on technology and telecommunications? Why spend on roads in the rural part of the country to access agriculture; you'll hear all that and more!

But the only test for the right answer, if they ask you about all this, is; Liberia and the U.S. will have healthier children, better educated young people, a stronger economy and be able to realize a more diverse global economy for the good of all in the near future. That should be the test. And if the answer to those questions is, yes, you should support Liberia .

So it's important as Liberians come together to move our country forward and as you come to move your country and your business entities forward in a vibrant expanding relationship with Liberia . I know you have to look at the past and
you have to be mindful of it. But let's not get too carried away about the impact of the past on the future. We have got to not only make sure that we are prudently employing our human capital and natural resources; we have to invest
the dividends in a way that broadens the nature of the Liberian economy, if we really want people to get richer, socially, economically and politically. I have said time and time again, our history must be used as a rearview mirror, while
we look forward on the road to our true possibilities.

Let me now close by thanking all of you who took the trouble to come here and are willing to get involved with and are thinking about investing and trading with Liberia . I want recall in closing the Biblical story of the Good

There's a poor guy that gets beaten up and robbed on the side of the road and left for dead. And a priest sees him, looks the other way and walks on. Next, a man from a very prominent tribe sees him but he too diverts his eyes and walks

And then the Good Samaritan, a member of a sort of an outcast group, who were looked down on, thought to be alien and not friendly to the dominant peoples of the area. The Good Samaritan saw the wounded man. He went over to him, ministered to his wounds, took him to a local inn, asked the innkeeper to take the man in, paid money out of his own pocket and said, I want you to let him stay here until he's well enough. And the next time I'm through town, if I owe you more money I'll pay you. Quite a wonderful story.

Now, what does this have to do with you, you're asking? I'm getting to that. Basically, there are three kinds of people in this story. The first kind says, whatever is yours is mine if I can take it away from you. That's the person that beat up the poor man. The second kind of person says, whatever is mine is mine if I can just keep it. That's the priest and the man from the fancy tribe who turned their eyes away and walked away. And the third kind of person says, whatever is mine is yours if you need it. That was the Samaritan.

Now, the point I want to make to you is, from a religious point of view, whatever your faith, the third kind of person is the only sort of person worth being if we are to make this our one world a better place.

We live in a world which grows daily more interdependent. People are increasingly more interconnected in the world, not only by the internet, but by travel.

Therefore, if we want every child in America to have a future 20, 30, 40 years from now, that will be as bright as possible, we should do something to help every child in Liberia have a future that is as bright as possible; because it's actually good for the American kids and it is good for the Liberian kids. If you have more people benefiting by trading and investing more with Liberia , it's good for us because then we'll be able to export and import more things. This is a lesson of what your country did after World War II by investing in Europe and Japan . Today the world is a more prosperous place because of the Marshall Plan
and the other Good Samaritan practices by America .

So the Good Samaritan story is right for another reason. It's not just whatever is mine is yours if you need it, but if I give you a little of mine now, I'll get it back many times over. Because this old world is like a boat in a sea, and sometimes the sea is stormy and sometimes the sea is calm; sometimes the winds blow with us and sometimes the winds blow against us; sometimes one of us is the captain of the ship, and then three or four decades later somebody else may be the captain of the ship. You can say all of that, but when it's all said and done, no matter what, we're all still in the same boat.

I believe that. That's really why I'm here. And that's why I want you to support Liberia . Once I am elected President, we will support economic reform. I want the Americans to put more money in Liberia We will develop the available human capital to respond to your investment and trade. But I hope you will remember what I have said here today. Fairness is important and honesty's important. We have a country and a better world community to build. So it's also important that you and I do the intelligent thing, and that we think about the Good Samaritan and behave like him for the good of all of us and our one world.

Thank you for your attention. I have enjoyed our time together and I look forward to many more encounters beyond today.

Thank you very much.