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Liberia's Open-Door Policy

  • Lawrence A. Marinelli

Although Liberia is the oldest African republic, its economy is still young and growing. The road of independence has been uphill, lonely, and difficult. During Liberia's early decades of independence, the British and French were antagonistic towards what they considered a threat to their colonial ambitions as well as a refutation of the assumption that the black African was incapable of self-government. Across the Atlantic, Liberia's unofficial mother country, the United States, was still in the isolationist period of its history; its gestures of friendship were few and cautious. Nor did Liberia have easy-term foreign aid programmes to provide quick remedies for financial crises. Pleas for aid fell upon the cars of unsympathetic bankers. For the first 80 years or more, each of Liberia's several loans was used to repay the last. The battle was for survival, leaving little opportunity for development.

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Page 91 note 1 United Nations, Monthly Statistical Bulletin (NewYork), 05 1962.

Page 92 note 1 Monrovia has one of the best ports on the West African coast. In 1962 it handled nearly 2,000 vessels with a combined cargo of about four million tons. The registry is one of the largest in the world; in 1960, ships under the Liberian flag carried more cargo in the foreign trade of the United States than those under the flag of the United States.

Page 93 note 1 During the Tubman Administration, assistance from the United States has amounted to more than $150 million. In 1962 the United States gave Liberia nearly $11 million aid, plus a $4·8 million long-term loan.

Page 93 note 2 Quoted from President Tubman of Liberia Speaks, edited by E. Reginald Townsend (London, 1959), pp. 134–6.

Page 94 note 1 The value of iron ore exports in that year was $29·4 million, nearly $4 million more than that of rubber.

Page 94 note 2 Mr Fred Ryan, assistant to the president of LAMCO.

Page 95 note 1 The only current investment project exceeding the scale of the LAMCO Joint Venture is the Volta River Project, partly owned by the Government of Ghana.

Page 95 note 2 Bethlehem and L.I.O. are each putting up $60 million; $50 million will come from a pre-financed contract from Erzkontor (Ruhr Steel Mills), $30 million from the American Export-Import Bank, and $5·7 million from the First National City Bank of New York.

Page 96 note 1 The Liberian Mining Company is incorporated in Liberia. Ownership is divided as follows: Republic Steel Corporation, 60 per cent; Mr Lansdell Christie (president of L.M.C.) 25 per cent; remainder undisclosed. The chairman of the board is Mr Thomas F. Patton (president of Republic Steel).

Page 96 note 2 The ownership of DELIMCO is evenly split between the Government and Consortium Liberia (made up of five German steel interests).

Page 96 note 3 “This is owned 75 per cent by Consortium Liberia and 25 per cent by Societa Finanziaria Liderurgica (Finsider, Rome).

Page 97 note 1 The Liberian Government owns 50 per cent; Liberian Enterprises (owned by some 1,700 Liberian stockholders), 35 per cent, and the Liberian Trading Company, 15 per cent. Sources of finance for N.I.O.C. are as follows: Liberia Mining Company, $1·5 million; Government of Liberia, $5 million; Liberian Enterprises, $3·5 million. There are also two loans of $7 million each, one from the American Export–Import Bank, and one from Dutch brokers. N.I.O.C. is the only iron ore project in which the Government of Liberia has directly invested.

Page 97 note 2 Office of National Planning, 1962 Annual Report (Monrovia, 1962), p. 14.

Page 97 note 3 The budget bill, however, contains a provision under which the President has authority to cut where necessary in order to meet foreign debt commitments. The total national debt is at present $112 million in short-term loans.

* An American graduate who has recently completed a research programme in Liberia. This article is based on Ch. 9 of his forthcoming book, The New Liberia (New York, Praeger, 1964).

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The Journal of Modern African Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-278X
  • EISSN: 1469-7777
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-modern-african-studies
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