Minister Joof Visits Dakar Amid Efforts to Improve Trade Relations

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Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, Hon. Baboucarr Ousmaila Joof

By: Mariatou Ngum

The minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, Hon. Baboucarr Ousmaila Joof, on Wednesday, May 8th embarked on a four-day working visit to Dakar, Senegal. He was accompanied by Mr. Yankuba Darboe, the Commissioner General of The Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA); Mr. Lamin Dampha, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade, and other  staff of the Ministry and GRA.

Dr. Serigne Gueye Diop, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Senegal received Mr Joof at his office at Diamniadio.

The visit afforded the Minister the opportunity to discuss with his Senegalese counterpart the constraints to trade between the two countries, as relates to the movement of goods, customs procedures, the development of value chains, the promotion of investments and industrial development among others.

On welcoming the Gambian delegation in a high-level meeting on Friday, Minister Diop expressed delight at receiving his counterpart in less than three weeks after the official visit to Banjul by the President of the Republic of Senegal, His Excellency Mr. Bassirou Diomaye Diakhar Faye. He affirmed that President Faye and His Excellency President Adama Barrow have expressed commitment to continue to bring their cooperation to a strategic level.

Minister Joof and his Senegalese counterpart Dr. Serigne Gueye Diop

He asserted that Senegal and The Gambia are two countries linked by history and geography, with deep ties that unite the two peoples. He said the two countries maintain very extensive commercial relations revealing that exports from Dakar to Banjul are estimated at 110.7 billion FCFA in 2022 (NACE 2022) and The Gambia is one of Senegal’s main trading partners in the ECOWAS zone, after Mali (708.8 billion FCFA), Ivory Coast (114.4 billion FCFA) and the Republic of Guinea (113.8 billion FCFA).However, Mr Diop observed that despite the close link, trade between the two countries remains very weak and not very diversified.This situation, the Senegalese Commerce Minister, said is largely explained by non-tariff barriers, including complex administrative procedures and non-compliance with Community provisions on the free movement of goods and people. Therefore, he noted, there are so many issues that they will have to adopt together, in a coordinated manner, to facilitate trade between The Gambia and Senegal. 

Hon. Joof thanked his counterpart for the warm welcome accorded him and his team since they arrived in Senegal while expressing delight for the meeting.

He affirmed that the close connection between the two countries is one that the two presidents, and even those before them, have recognised; and that is what they have asked them to revive.

The fact that there are barriers, he appealed to both sides to be realistic about those barriers and to accept that they exist. He informed  the meeting that trade is not flowing as they expect between Senegal and The Gambia and that is a problem, hence,the solution is in their hands and that if they recognise that then they are determined to make a difference. “We want to see that there is movement of goods and services across the borders and to facilitate that we need to be strong enough to take the necessary decisions to strengthen our economic evolution as Senegal and The Gambia are interdependent,” Minister remarked.

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