Liberia’s Economy is on the Rocks

The aid money that held the country steady after its brutal civil wars is ebbing and inflation has surged to more than 25%. Many businesses are struggling to stay afloat. But one industry seems to be weathering the storm: shipping. The tiny west African country, with a gdp of just $2.1bn, has one of the largest seagoing fleets in the world. Over 4,400 vessels which is about 12% of global shipping fly its flag. And the number is growing. The secret of this maritime success is an old practice known as the flag of convenience. In the 1920s shipowners began to register their vessels abroad for a small fee. This allowed them to avoid taxes and labour laws back home. Liberia had few regulations and made it easy to sign up. By the 1960s it had the largest merchant navy in the world.


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