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ECOWAS, Trade Ministry discuss regional trade facilitation

Aug 10, 2016, 10:14 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

A two-day trade facilitation dialogue opened yesterday at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, organised by the Ministry of Trade and the ECOWAS Commission with support from GIZ Germany Cooperation.

In his opening statement, the director of trade, Abdoulie Jammeh, thanked the ECOWAS Commission and GIZ for supporting the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment to organise this trade facilitation dialogue in The Gambia.

This was not the first time they had been supported by the ECOWAS Commission to develop trade-related capacities in The Gambia, he said.

Jammeh recalled that the Commission, through the Trade Negotiation Capacity Building Project, supported The Gambia to establish and strengthen the capacity of its Inter-Institutional Committee for effective trade policy decision-making.

The project also supported The Gambia in April 2015, to organise a two-day trade facilitation workshop which enabled The Gambia to review and categorise The Gambia’s commitments in the Trade Facilitation Agreement, he added.

Similar forms of support were also given by the Project to Trade Policy Decision Making Committee, as well as the Trade Facilitation and Market Access Committees to subsequently implement their programmes in 2015.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, therefore, thanked the ECOWAS Commission and GIZ for the support and for their continuous partnership with the Ministry in moving the trade and regional integration agenda.

The objective of the agreement was to expedite the movement of goods across borders, he stated, adding that the agreement also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues.

“The objective for organising the dialogue with trade facilitation stakeholders is to give us the opportunity to once again reflect on our trade facilitation systems in The Gambia, and agree on the way to advance the implementation of trade facilitation measures based on international best practices to reduce the cost of trading,” Mr Jammeh said.

Mr Jammeh also stated that the forum would also help them to deepen their understanding of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and, through public private partnership, they could support the development of trade facilitation systems to ease the movement of goods. 

“The reforms that will accompany the full and effective implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement will, no doubt, support trade development through more simplified customs procedures which will improve access to global markets.” 

The Gambia’s effective implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement is, therefore, an important aspect to improve national competitiveness, he continued.

Over the years, he went on, The Gambia has made significant progress in simplifying procedural requirements for both import and export of goods.

“We have also seen recent investments by the Gambia Ports Authority all geared towards building capacity to provide trade facilitation services more efficiently and effectively. This has, no doubt, contributed to reducing the cost of doing business in The Gambia.”

The Gambia government, therefore, recognises the vital role that trade facilitation plays in reducing cost of trading, he added.

Removing obstacles to trade would not only reduce the cost of moving goods internally, but would also enable The Gambia to attract more investments in the productive sectors to improve trade performance, he further stated.

The forum was, therefore, a good opportunity for them to discuss and identify policies to support customs modernisation processes, as well as measures to facilitate the development of modern and robust logistics and transportation infrastructure to reduce time and costs of moving goods.

“We need to discuss frankly on these issues, share ideas and experiences and come up with recommendations that will strengthen our collaboration with development partners to build trade facilitation capacities to effectively implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement.”

Jammeh thanked the Trade Facilitation Committee for all the work and efforts that are being made to improve the trade facilitation environment in The Gambia.

These efforts - if complemented with more ambitious customs reforms and trade facilitation programmes that include customs modernization, simplification and harmonization of procedural and administrative trade regulations - would ease the cost of doing business in The Gambia to facilitate trade, he said.

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