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Liberia: Contract renegotiations with Mittal Steel meant to amend, not end, deal

Liberia: Contract renegotiations with Mittal Steel meant to amend, not end, deal

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Thursday that talks between Liberia and the world's largest steel producer are aimed at amending, not ending, a deal Mittal Steel Co. signed with a postwar, interim government.
Netherlands-based Mittal signed the iron ore extraction contract with the transitional government in August 2005. But after Sirleaf took power in January, she ordered a review of all deals signed by that administration, accused which has been accused of corruption.
"This agreement is important to us. It has job implications. It has implications for the economy. It has implications for the benefit for the country," Sirleaf told reporters in the capital, Monrovia.
She said that Mittal had offered some unspecified concessions but "whether it is dividends or royalty or taxes _ those things require more work." However, she added: "Our overall objective is to make it a better agreement, but not to kill it."
In a draft report dated Aug. 15, a Liberian review committee concluded that the Mittal agreement was "unconscionable" because of its legal, property and tax clauses and "did not conform to the prevailing law at the time," Dow Jones Newswires reported earlier this week.
That makes it "an equitable ground for the cancellation" of the contract, the committee said. Sirleaf's comments Thursday indicated she wasn't considering that option.
Mittal, which wasn't immediately available for comment, said earlier it planned to invest about US$900 million in the West African nation, largely ruined after its 1989-2003 civil war, and said it planned to make further social investments in areas near its operations.


Updated : 2021-03-06 10:47 GMT+08:00