Trade and Industry: current dispensation and the challenges ahead

As we embark on our collective efforts to bring prosperity to the The Republic of Gambia all prognosis for external trade for the Republic of The Gambia in the 2017 fiscal year indicates there will be an increase in total trade compared to previous years due to the new found confidence in the government and luring investment interests. In highlighting this it is important to look at the statistical figures that exist dating from 2015 as a turning point.

The 2015 fiscal year saw an increase of 6.2% in trade from the previous year. The value of imports also increased by 6.6% whilst exports decreased by 11.4% due to a decline in exports to the ECOWAS region. However, the value of domestic exports for the period under review increased by 1.7% mainly due to the increase in the export of fish and fisheries products. In view of these figures one can conclude that tides will turn in the Barrow administration’s favor as both International and local investors have a renewed sense of optimism to invest heavily in the country.

The Republic of The Gambia has no exclusive minerals or other extremely valuable natural resources, there is confidence that oil deposits exist, but as of now mining in the Gambia, is limited to the production of claylaterite, sand and gravel, silica sand, and zircon, and these products at this juncture do not play a significant role in the economy of The Gambia.

The Gambia has a limited but resilient agricultural base, with 75% of the population depending on crops and livestock for its livelihood. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and animal hides. The Republic of the Gambia’s short- term economic progress remains highly dependent on foreign aid, and on responsible government economic management schemes.

Our Republic boasts of long term trading with the UK and other EU countries as our major domestic export markets, accounting for 86% of all exports. This is followed by Asia at 14% of exports, and the rest of Africa at 8% of exports.

These same countries, The U.K. and the other EU countries- namely, Germany, France, Netherlands, and Belgium –are also our major source of imports, accounting for 60% of the total share of imports, followed by Asia at 23%, and African countries at 17%. The Gambia re-exports 11% of its exports and 14.6% of its imports coming from the United States.

In conclusion my government has inherited an economy that is characterized by a high dependence on traditional subsistence agriculture, a historic reliance on our major export crop peanuts or groundnuts for export earnings, a re-export trade built up around its ocean port, low import duties, minimal administrative procedures, a fluctuating exchange rate with no exchange controls, and a significant tourism industry. Average wages for the majority of the Gambian populous hover around $1–2 per day. With this in mind my ministry opens its doors to new long term beneficial investment opportunities to build a new vibrant and prosperous Gambia.