France and Liberia

Political relations

The French Embassy in Monrovia was evacuated in August 1990 because of the civil war in the country. Its closure was announced in September 1996. France’s diplomatic mission in Liberia reopened on 13 March 2007. As Liberia is part of the Abidjan consular constituency, French nationals there are registered there.

The Liberian President, Ms Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, made an official visit to France in March 2006 during which the President of the French Republic announced the reopening of a French diplomatic representation in Liberia. A French ambassador was appointed in March 2007.

President Johnson Sirleaf was received by President Hollande on 7 November 2012.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, headed the Liberian delegation at the Élysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa, held in Paris on 6-7 December 2013.

The French Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, Jean-Marie Le Guen met with the Liberian Vice President, Joseph Boakai, in Paris on 24 March 2017.

Economic relations

Bilateral trade

Trade between France and Liberia is limited, standing at €44.24 million in 2016. French exports grew by 10.3%, thanks in particular to sales of pharmaceuticals (43% of French exports), while imports, largely comprised of iron ore, fell by 35.1%. These shifts reduced France’s trade deficit to almost nothing, from €15 million in 2015 to €760,000 in 2016. France’s trade deficit harks back to the reactivation of Liberia’s mining operations in 2012, due to increasing French purchases of extractive industry products (such as iron ore).

French presence

France’s economic presence has grown in recent years. Orange is the second-largest telephone company (but has the most subscribers); Total has a 70% market share in fuel distribution; Bolloré is the leader in maritime and airport logistical services; CMA-CGM is the second-largest shipping company (behind Maersk) ; AGS practically has a monopoly in removals; SIFCA and Bolloré, through its control of almost 40% of shares in SOCFIN group companies, are involved in the three largest plantations of hevea rubber trees behind that of Firestone (Salala Rubber Corporation, Liberian Agricultural Company and Cavala Rubber Corporation); and Renault, CFAO, Bureau Veritas, Gras Savoye, etc. are active in their respective sectors. Air France-KLM made its return to Liberia in late March 2017, with a KLM flight between Amsterdam and Monrovia.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Our bilateral cooperation with Liberia is relatively modest and based for the most part on a debt relief and development contract (C2D) worth €3.9 million, signed on 16 August 2012 for a period of five years. It expired in late 2016. Its resources were allocated to Liberia’s Health Sector Pool Fund to support the National Health and Social Welfare Policy and Plan 2011-2021.

The TWIN 2H project, aimed at building hospital capacities in four West African countries (including Liberia) is currently being implemented, with a contribution of €3 million.

The Alliance Française branch in Monrovia closed in 2014.

Updated: October 2017

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