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Trade between Gambia and US remains low - Trade Minister

Dec 5, 2011, 1:36 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment has said that the volume of trade between the Gambia and the United States of America remains very low compared to other countries.

Abdou Kolley, who was speaking Friday evening at the Sheraton hotel during the 1st annual dinner of the American Chamber of Commerce, said the value of Gambian exports to the US in 2008 constituted less than 4 percent of total exports.

The 1st annual dinner, celebrated under the theme: “The facilitation of business establishment in The Gambia to attract foreign investors,” brought together members of the business community, the private sector and media, among others.

Kolley told the gathering that fish and fisheries products, as well as cashew nuts constitute some of the Gambia’s main export products to the US. These sectors, he added, presents huge potentials, but only if it can be effectively harnessed.

He explained that for the most part, Gambian businesses with the potential to export fail to meet standards, quality, packaging, and labeling needs of the American market, adding that these are critical and necessary conditions for any successful business.

While calling on Gambian businesses to explore innovative ways of doing business, including joint ventures, partnership and other collaborative approaches, Kolley noted that by coming together, Gambian businesses, most of which are small or medium in size, would be able to address many of the challenges that they face, including access to finance as well as the ability to meet large orders.

He also called on private sector businesses to rise up to the challenges by ensuring that they invest in meeting the required standards, quality, and labeling needs of AGOA in order for The Gambia to join the list of countries that are benefitting immensely from the scheme.

Kolley further called on the American Chamber of Commerce in The Gambia to strengthen its advocacy and outreach by ensuring benefit linkages between Gambian and American businesses.

He suggested that the American Chamber of Commerce reinforces its collaboration with the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry to explore complementarities for the mutual benefit of the chambers’ membership.

In his views, attracting foreign investors requires that certain basic fundamentals are in place, noting that The Gambia has over the years succeeded in putting in place these fundamentals.

“Government initiated policies that promote economic growth and stability, diversification of economic activities and expansion of the private sector. Businesses in The Gambia have benefitted immensely from the country’s unwavering political and macroeconomic stability, liberal trade and investment policies and market-based economy,” Kolley stated.

He noted that the government’s policy on investment and private sector development has been consistent through its recognition of the private sector as an engine of growth.

“As The Gambia strives to become a regional trading hub in West Africa based on its strategic location, the government has adopted a series of measures aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of the Gambian economy,” Kolley added.