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The Gambia: State reaffirms commitment to promoting trade

Published date:
Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Hon. Babucarr H.M. Jallow, The Gambia's minister of Trade and Employment has said the government would continue to sustain efforts aimed at strengthening the export sector in the country.

He made the affirmation yesterday at the Sheraton Hotel at a training workshop on apparel export, jointly organized by the United States Embassy in Banjul and the West Africa Trade Hub (WATH).

According to the Trade minister, the ministry is working tirelessly to ensure that Gambian exports to the US market increase substantially. He said the AGOA initiative under which The Gambia is offered preferential US market access is a unique opportunity, which should be maximally utilized.

Speaking further, Mr. Jallow said it was necessary for all of personnel in the sector to collaborate, complement each other's areas of specialization and pool their resources together so that they could make more impact.

He urged those that would be able to get the first significant orders from the US clients to explore possibilities of outsourcing part of the work to their colleagues in the industry without compromising overall quality and timely delivery of goods.

“The Gambian private sector cannot do everything at once. Therefore, the apparel and textile sector could represent a good starting point; and Gambians have an appreciable knowledge of the industry,” he said, emphasizing that the training would enhance practical expertise. According to him, the training would improve the capacities of the participants to be “export ready.”

Speaking of the high standard of the US market, Mr. Jallow noted that the American market has its quality requirements and those interested in doing business with it must be hard working, diligent and dedicated, noting that The Gambia has what it takes to embark on a successful export trade with the US like many of its neighbours in the sub region. According to him, what is needed is only 'a little more push' to ensure that the country attains such world class standards expected of it, and be ready to supply any market.

According to him, there are some keys areas that must be addressed before exporters can make any meaningful attempts at the US market.

These include persisting problems in areas of neat and acceptable finishing, consistent pattern cutting, timely delivery of orders, and dealing with large orders, among others. “We therefore have to completely reorganize our business thinking and set up.”

He noted that his ministry eagerly looks forward to seeing the private sector in Textile and Apparel Industry make optimal use of the AGOA initiative, assuring them of the ministry's support in all manners possible.

He concluded by thanking the US Embassy in The Gambia for all the support they have offered in the past and continue to offer Gambian entrepreneurs and for complementing government's efforts in building the capacity of the private sector.

Speaking on behalf of the United States Ambassador to The Gambia, Mr. Barry Wells at the workshop, Mrs. Cindy Gregg, the deputy chief of mission said the workshop is aimed at helping Gambian fashion designers to improve their production skills so that their products could be competitive in US market.

According to her, fashion plays an essential part of the Gambian life and the training would hone their skills as well as enhance the potential of fashion designers to export their products to the United States.

This she said is part of their efforts to help The Gambia maximize the benefits from the AGOA, the cornerstone of US's trade and investment policy toward Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to her, AGOA has since 2000 broken down barriers to US markets and eliminated import duties on more than 6000 products.

To her, the move is a vehicle for private sector-led growth that can improve the lives of millions of people across Africa. “While neighboring countries have already begun to trade under this sector, The Gambia has struggled to capitalize on its benefits.

We strongly believe that the apparel and fashion industry is one of the sectors under AGOA in which The Gambia will be most competitive,” she observed.

She further emphasized the need to focus on manners of maximizing the AGOA opportunity, noting that a lot has been invested in supplying Gambian talents with the tools they need to begin exporting to the international market as they had been trained on managing and marketing their businesses as well as given the necessary contacts with investors who are willing to help clarify the mystical process of exporting to international markets.

“Once you have been given these tools, it will be up to you to use them in your daily processes,” she said.

She then announced plans of the US mission to lead a delegation of fashion designers and textile dealers to the Textile and Sewn Products Industry Week in Atlanta, Georgia in May. According to her, the exhibition will expose the Gambian talents to the high quality fabric and to the latest equipment and technology in apparel production.

She then expressed hope that there would be 'Made in The Gambia' products in the United States very soon. “For many of you, this training will open the door to international trainings, travel and greater financial success,” she said, urging the participants to be competitive as this would help them achieve higher level of performance, develop their own standards of excellence and set up their own plan on how to achieve high quality product.

For his part, Mr. Makhtar Thiam, director of WATH revealed that his institution is currently working with 21 countries in the sub region, and their efforts to support Gambian textile dealers and fashion designers has seen tremendous improvement in the sector.

He observed that Gambian women are now traveling to the US and other developed countries in the name of trade.

He pledged their continued support both financially and technically to Gambian traders, promising to link them with business partners in the developed countries.

“ Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on

Click here to view a sector profile of The Gambia's bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.

Other regularly updated trade statistics on include: (click each link to view)

  • AGOA-Beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.

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