In 2006, as part of its wider reconstruction effort, the government of Liberia conducted a review and renegotiation of its contracts with the Firestone rubber company and the ArcelorMittal steel company. The resulting amended contracts offered Liberia significant gains, in areas from taxes and corporate governance rules to environmental and social issues such as housing and education. The amended contracts were embraced not only by Liberia's legislature and general public, but also by Firestone and ArcelorMittal, the latter increasing its investment in Liberia from $1.0 to $1.5 billion. The successful negotiations have also caught the attention of other African governments seeking to ensure that their countries maximize value from natural resource concessions.
A new and comprehensive report, funded by Open Society Institute partner Revenue Watch Institute, demonstrates the need for more equitable terms in natural resource contracts and the pivotal role that the contract process can play in economic recovery and development. The report, Getting a Better Deal from the Extractive Sector: Concession Negotiation in Liberia, 2006-2008, was prepared for the Office of the President of Liberia by Revenue Watch senior economist Antoine Heuty and Raja Kaul, who was closely involved with Liberia Firestone and ArcelorMittal negotiations. The report includes forewords by Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Open Society Institute chairman George Soros.
Revenue Watch held a discussion on Getting a Better Deal from the Extractive Sector with the following panelists:
- Hon. O. Natty B. Davis, Minister of State for Reconstruction and Development, Republic of Liberia;
- Jeffrey S. Wood, Retired Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton LLC;
- Raja Kaul, Independent Consultant, Co-Author of Getting a Better Deal from the Extractive Sector, Revenue Watch Institute;
- Prof. Peter Rosenblum, Columbia University Law School.
The panel was moderated by Karin Lissakers, Director, Revenue Watch Institute.