By Mariatou Ngum
A high-powered delegation from the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, currently on a week-long visit to Guinea Bissau are having bilateral discussions with Guinea Bissau authorities and stakeholders on trade relations, with a focus on cashew, transit, and basalt trade, as well as the implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme.
The delegation, led by Hon Baboucarr Ousmaila Joof, had a bilateral meeting with the Minister of Commerce of Guinea Bissau, H.E Abass Djalo, and his officials, the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture and Services and the operators in the cashew trade at the conference room of the Commerce Ministry.
Speaking during the meeting, Mr. Lamin Dampha, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, thanked their counterparts for their hospitality and noted that The Gambia and Guinea Bissau are both members of ECOWAS who share a lot in common.
He told the meeting that The Gambia, Senegal, and Guinea Bissau are all producers of cashew, and the product is important to the three countries.
Among these countries, Guinea Bissau is the largest producer of cashew and over the years they have a lot of experience in the development of cashew.
As part of the reasons for their visit to Bissau, Dampha said is to see how they can bring together these three countries to work towards the promotion of cashew production and trade.
“We want to encourage the exchange of experts within this industry so that we can support each other to develop the industry further,” he affirmed.
Besides cashew, PS Dampha spoke about the possibility of trading in basalt between the two countries. “Bissau has a product and The Gambia is a market; they can easily sell the product”.
On the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme and transit trade, he noted that since they are both members of ECOWAS, and are signatories to the protocols, it is necessary to encourage the exchange of goods without restrictions.
Dampha went on to underscore the need for Banjul and Bissau to strengthen their ports, citing the transit trade data, which indicated that apart from Mali, Guinea Bissau is The Gambia’s major market.
However, to integrate the two economies more, PS Dampha pointed out the need for them to have a bilateral trade agreement to protect investors from both countries.