Gambia to Qualify for AGOA
The Gambia will this year qualify for the US African Growth and Opportunity Act for recording progress towards respect for democratic freedoms, rule of law and human dignity.
This was disclosed by the US Ambassador, Mr Jackson McDonald, at the US-Gambia forum organised by Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) and Sahel Investment Management at the Kairaba Beach Hotel last Tuesday September 24.
"Since the lifting of the sanctions, the democratically elected Government of The Gambia continues to record progress towards respect for the democratic freedoms, rule of law and human dignity, and positive developments in the market economy. These will help The Gambia to qualify for AGOA,"he said.
Mr McDonald said despite The Gambia's extra-constitutional change of government in 1994 which led to the US Government suspending much of her bilateral assistance as required by US laws, specifically Section 508 of the Foreign Assistance Act, the October/ January presidential and legislative elections, despite some shortcomings, have been deemed generally free and fair by observers. The US Congress recommended The Gambia Government as democratic, hence the lifting of the sanctions last March 5 and then opened doors to renewed bilateral assistance.
The lifting of the sanctions, he said, allows the Corporate Council on Africa (which is a USAID funded initiative) to bring US Government funded programmes to The Gambia.
Mr McDonald also said many other American investors are looking towards Africa and expressed hope that many recognised the potential benefits of investing in The Gambia.
The US Ambassador, Jackson McDonald, said although he arrived in The Gambia just ten months ago, he has witnessed positive trends in the political and economic arena that should enhance the investment potential of The Gambia.
Following the lifting six months ago of the long-standing sanctions against The Gambia which restricted the country from benefitting in any bilateral assistance from the US, the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), has announced that American re-engagement in The Gambia is now possible.
According to an "immediate release" from the CCA office, dated September 23, 2002, with the re-engagement, the possibility for business linkage is substantial and could lead to investment in the West African country.
"The US Agency for International Development (USAID) will once again be able to fund projects on the ground and the CCA is looking forward to working again in The Gambia," the release stated.
Last Monday, the Gambian President met with the US Ambassador and a team of US representatives and business delegates from The Gambia and outside, to discuss the potential opportunities created by the US re-engagement in the country. From the US, the delegates came from WAIBL, USAID, FIB and DOMEX.
The meeting represents the collaborative effort being launched towards developing further business opportunities and investment in The Gambia.
It also stated that the CCA's WAIBL programme, funded by USAID, will assist in linking Gambia and US businesses, as well as provide various financing options through the US Export-Import Bank and US Commercial Banks.
"USAID's return to the Gambia will be sure to jump start increased business and project development opportunities there," said CCA President Stephen Hayes.
It could be noted that CCA, established in 1992, is a non-partisan organisation of nearly 150 American corporations dedicated to strengthening the commercial relations between the US and Africa and its membership represents almost 85 per cent of total US private sector investments in Africa.