Gambian Vice President Dr Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy has urged the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) to work hard to increase international participation in the next editions of trade fair.
This is because interaction between local and international companies is one of the best ways to promote The Gambia as an investment destination and to forge linkages between local and foreign companies, Dr Njie-Saidy said while speaking at the opening ceremony of the 12-day trade fair that is underway at the Independence Stadium in Bakau where there are over 200 exhibitors, both local and international, exhibiting goods and services, as well as techniques of production, processing and preservation, and packaging.
Organised by the GCCI, and sponsored by Africell, with Global Properties as the official partner, the trade fair is held to bring wide range of economic operators into close contacts to build effective partnerships that will positively impact development of the private sector towards sustainable growth and development.
Over eighty-seven companies, nine banks, nine parastatals, four NGOs and four private radio stations and GRTS Television and Radio stations are part of the exhibitors at the trade fair. There are also ten companies, two national business enterprises and two small and micro enterprises from Taiwan. [read article overleaf]. Other international exhibitors include Senegal, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Guinea Bissau, and Benin.
The vice president said further: “The interest manifested by exhibiting companies in The Gambia's trade fair, despite the economic downturn the world is going through, is a testimony to the confidence that these companies have in our economy for the opportunity it provides for the private sector to realize its potentials. Above all, it as a testimony to the sound and prudent macroeconomic policies anchored on the promotion of the private sector as the engine of growth.”
It is sad to note that Africa, despite its immense natural resources weigh a little in international trade. The Gambian vice president said the reason for this situation after so many years of independence, is that Africa has not been able to set on an industrialization path but keep on exporting natural resources in their raw form and buy them back after they have been transformed into consumable products.
“We should keep in mind that we pay for every quantum of value added into those products whilst undergoing transformation, when we import them after they have been transformed. So do we enrich those nations and reverse that trend if we want to play a significant role in international trade relations and get our people out of the poverty trap. This requires a fairer multilateral trading system, where no country or group of countries are bent on exploiting others countries,” she reiterated.
According to Ambassador Wells, The Ambassador’s Special Self Help Project Fund (SSH) is only one of the first links between individual communities and the U.S. Embassy.
For his part, the Chief Executive Officer of GCCI, Mam Cherno Jallow, expressed delight that the trade fair has earned an international recognition, which he said is manifested by the participation of the international companies.
“We have many international companies who wanted to participate but due to space constraints we have no other option than to limit the number in order to give room for more local participation as the main purpose of the fair is to give the local companies the opportunities to showcase their products and services,” he said, adding that this year the number of stands has increased by 15%.
The projects went through a very selective and competitive process, the Ambassador said, adding: “We went through nearly 100 applications that were submitted from around the country, and selected yours. I have no doubt that the projects selected will advance our mutual development goals.”
Hon. Ousman Sonko, Minister of Interior, who represented the Minister of Trade, Industry and Employment, Yusupha Kah, said the Gambia government continues to engage in a business reform with a view to enhancing trade and private sector growth.
He cited frequent border closures as one of the main challenges of trade in the sub-region, saying it is our collective responsibility to make sure that we have a free flow of trade in the region.
For the president of GCCI, Bai Matarr Drammeh, trade fair is one of the greatest tools to achieve the ECOWAS trade integration.
BY: LAMIN JAHATEH