It has been confirmed to this medium by the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Trade Mr. Lamin Dampha that The Gambia trade agreements with Senegal focused on trade and transit, saying the countries The Gambia signed trade agreements with include Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Venezuela, the UK, Netherlands and ongoing negotiation with Morocco among other countries.
For Senegal, he explained that the trade agreements look at trade and transit because the country’s access to the regional market is through Senegal. He added that most of the trades through ECOWAS are by land and not by sea.
“If we are trading with Guinea Bissau, we have to pass through Senegal. Our trade and transit agreement with Senegal is that if our traders have problems in Senegal, they need to notify us and we will take it up with the Senegalese government.”
PS Dampha reiterated that the agreement allows the two ministries to meet every six months in order to look into the challenges affecting trade between the two countries and as well as transit trade.
On Africa’s trade gain, he explained that Africa’s trade is weak because “our economics are weak.” He added that 20 to 30 years ago, Africa’s contribution to global trade was about 7%. He confirmed it’s now less due to structural challenges in the African economy.
“Africa is producing almost the same thing and we are not trading among ourselves because our products are similar. We rely on agriculture and we are not exploring our comparative advantage.”
Continuing with the challenges, he said the challenge Africa has in trading among ourselves is connectivity.
“For example, Gambia has only two borders which are Senegal and the sea. Sea is a natural resource but we are not using it to trade with the rest of West Africa. That is an opportunity we could have explored and could have established a strong sea link with the rest of our trading partners.”
He emphasized that Africa’s trade with the rest of the world is affected by low production while adding that “we need to be able to transform our economy,” by making the necessary policy changes that are required in order to attract investments in the productive sector, enhance our agricultural production, and be able to export.
“Some of the trade in Africa is one way because we are receiving everything from the rest of the world but we are giving very little to the rest of the world. What we are exporting is only commodities. Commodity trade is difficult because market fluctuation is characterised by price fluctuation.”