The agreement modifies the current 2005 concession agreement and comes after extended negotiations.
The government and Firestone have jointly affirmed that the amended agreement represents an opportunity for a new partnership between Firestone and the government in their support for the rehabilitation and enhancement of Liberia’s natural rubber industry.
J. Chris Toe, minister of agriculture and the government’s lead negotiator, referred to the renegotiation of the Firestone concession agreement as “an embodiment of government’s goals to ensure that all existing agreements equitably protect Liberian interests and are consistent with principles that attract and sustain foreign investment in Liberia.”
He also stated that the amended agreement is estimated to result in an increase in revenues to the government for 2007 of nearly $2.5 million. Apart from the fiscal provisions, Firestone will be subject to generally applicable Liberian law.
Dan Adomitis, president of Firestone Natural Rubber Company, said, “Our focus is on rebuilding our operations and facilities in Liberia while supporting Liberia’s recovery efforts after 14 years of devastating civil conflict. This new agreement provides the right framework for Firestone Liberia to continue investing in replanting rubber trees, exploring value-added operations and rebuilding homes and health care facilities for our employees as well as adding more schools for the more than 15,000 children of employees now being educated in 23 Firestone schools.”
Firestone directly employs almost 7,000 people in Liberia and estimates that these jobs help create thousands of additional jobs in the Liberian economy.
Under the amended agreement, which runs through 2041, Firestone has committed to continue its replanting efforts, to complete a rubber wood factory that will directly add a minimum of 500 new jobs, to grow its support to small Liberian rubber farmers and to undertake additional social and educational projects.
The Agreement permits an increase in the income tax rate payable by Firestone from 25% to 30%, establishes new transfer pricing provisions for dry rubber and latex based on international indices, and makes a number of other changes that allow the Government to exercise more flexibility in applying its revenue laws.
The Government and Firestone have further affirmed that the Amended Agreement demonstrates to the international private sector Firestone’s long-term commitment to Liberia’s natural rubber industry, the partnership between Government of Liberia and Firestone, and makes it clear that, under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia is again “open for business.” (Tire Review/Akron)