The Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, Abdou Salam Secka, has disagreed with the Hon. Abdoulie Sanneh, National Assembly Member for Banjul Central, who argued that The Gambia’s re-export trade is declining over the years.
“Our trade statistics stood at D23, 274 million and then increased to D1, 042, 623 billion in 2009,” Trade Minister said while responding to question raised by Hon. Sanneh during the question and answer session of the National Assembly.
However, Hon Sanneh argued that evidence on the ground, at The Gambia’s seaport in Banjul, shows that re-export trade is decreasing.
About 80 percent of Gambian merchandise exports consist of re-exports to the sub-region. The Gambia’s economy and especially its public finances are highly dependent on this trade because imported goods destined for re-export pay the normal import duties.
The Trade Minister explained that in the first half of 2010 trade statistics revealed that re-export amounted to D530, 897 million compared to D362, 309 million in 2009.
“This statistics therefore do not attest to the declining re-export trade,” Mr Secka said.
He added that re-export trade is a sector that is not completely within the Nation’s control.
“One of the reasons is that other ports in the region are improving on their efficiency and therefore reducing the competiveness edge that we used to enjoy. Secondly the Region is moving more and more to harmonizing policies, including fiscal policies which means that our taxes in the region are supposed to be the same,” he said further.
Mr Secka went on to say that his Ministry is collaborating with all relevant Ministries for increased domestic productions, more value addition, more diversified exports, more earnings and therefore improved livelihoods for the citizenry.
“The Gambia is a liberal economy with a trade policy that encourages the creation of an enabling environment for trade throughout all sectors,” he said
He also added that they are currently engaged in a process of developing the Medium Term Plan for the implementation of the Trade Policy 2011 with a view to addressing issues of how to improve the domestic productive capacity, putting in place the institutional requirements to mainstream trade in relevant sectors and increase our competitiveness in terms of attracting investors, increasing and diversifying exports, and improving ease of doing business in The Gambia