| Stakeholders from both the private and the public sectors had converged on Tuesday to commence the formation of National Export Strategy for the Gambia, which is aimed to improve the international competitiveness of the country leading to enhanced export performance.|
Pic: Naffie Barry, Perm. Sec., Min. of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment
Organized by Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), the three-day national retreat, held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Senegambia, is to develop a framework for the Gambia national export strategy by reviewing existing national and sectoral studies and reports.
The development of an export strategy is crucial for the development of the Gambia’s economy. This is so because it guides the expansion of the production capacity and production base of an economy in efforts to meet domestic and foreign demand for both goods and services. This, in the process, creates employment, improves standards of living and contributes to growth in gross domestic product; all of which ensures economic growth and development.
Naffie Barry, permanent secretary, Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, said the government has committed, through its Vision 2020 blueprint, to one day render the Gambia a net exporter nation.
The Gambia is a net importer as merchandise export of the country in 2008 totaled to $14 million while import total to a whooping sum of $329 million in the same period and the situation has not improved so much of recent. Gambia has experienced both balance of trade deficit as well as balance of payment deficit over various years.
PS Barry said: “The government is committed to the achievement of Vision 2020 being led by the private sector and it is for this reason that the government is doing all possible to provide the conducive environment for the private sector to lead in that vein.
“The development of a national export strategy is a reflection of the creation of such conducive environment as it is private businesses that would drive the exports of this nation.”
Fatou Jallow, chief executive officer of Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency, said her agency is the implementing agency of the national export strategy, the first ever national export strategy for the country. The financial support of the strategy is provided by the Commonwealth Secretariat.
However, the success of the export strategy, as any other strategy, lies in its implementation. Unless a strategy is implemented, its remains just a piece of paper.
GIEPA CEO recalled that a taskforce was set up in January this year, comprising different stakeholders from the private and public sectors for the development of the export strategy, which will play a crucial role for the development of the country and the realization of Vision 2020.
She explained that the export strategy will lead to an increase in production to meet domestic demands as well exporting the surplus.
For an economy with a population of under two million people and a Gross Domestic Product of around one billion dollars (in nominal terms), it is only prudent that the country explore market avenues that would ensure prosperity and growth within the sub-region and beyond. The market and population size limits of the country limit the chances of the country in achieving the growth rates envisaged under Vision 2020, to render The Gambia middle income country.
The Gambia’s population of less than two million with less than 30% of that population constitution the purchasing power base of the economy necessarily dictates that the country look at expanding effective demand elsewhere outside of The Gambia. This is underlining reason why the Gambia must consciously develop an export strategy to guarantee its sustained growth by first producing enough for its market with the excess output and service destined for international markets and bringing with it ample foreign exchange to finance trade and economic expansion.
The Gambia is among the new wave of Sub-Saharan African economies experimenting with the concept of a National Export Strategy. Countries such as Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana have completed the development of their national export strategies and some have done so only recently.