Senegalese Commerce Minister Commits to Smooth Trade Relations with Gambia

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Dr. Serigne Gueye Diop, Senegalese Minister of Commerce and Industry

By Mariatou Ngum

The Senegalese Minister of Commerce and Industry under the leadership of His Excellency Mr. Bassirou Diomaye Diakhar Faye has said that he will ensure the smooth operation of trade between The Gambia and Senegal, while acknowledging the challenges and effort of raising the level of the two countries’ economic and commercial exchanges in recent years.

 

 Dr. Serigne Gueye Diop made this remark on Friday, May 10th during a meeting with his Gambian counterpart Minster Joof and delegation in Diamniadio, Senegal. Hon. Baboucarr Ousmaila Joof was on a trade facilitation visit to Dakar. Dr. Diop, recalled that in the quest to strengthen economic cooperation and regional development between Senegal and The Gambia, three sessions of the Senegalese-Gambian Bilateral Presidential Council were held respectively in March 2018, in Banjul, in 2020 in Dakar, and in August 2023, in Banjul. Alongside this strategic cooperation orientation mechanism, he added that other consultation or decision-making frameworks have been put in place with a view to jointly exploring opportunities for economic partnership, and the promotion of bilateral trade in particular.

 

These, he said, were the large joint cooperation commission, bringing together all the ministerial departments and sectors and the Joint Committee for Cooperation in Commercial Matters. Unfortunately, he recalled, the latter did not function fully due in particular to the pandemic and scheduling constraints. “I would like to invite us take to more action by setting up a work schedule for the Committee as soon as possible and organise Council meetings at the indicated periods. This will allow us address the legitimate concerns of our respective economic operators but also to implement the political guidelines of our highest authorities,” he stated, noting that he is convinced that together they can resolve these questions definitively.

Current Cement Issue

The Senegalese Commerce Minister said that they have heard about the cement issue and others, and promised that they will discuss them and come up with a solution. He however adjudged that if they want to develop the country, they should allow Gambian cement to enter Senegal and Senegalese cement to enter Gambia. This, he said, is a political decision and so they will facilitate it and make it easy.

Speaking further on the barriers, Dr Diop contended that goods that come from Gambia should enter Senegal and vice versa. “We both need the market; Senegal needs Gambian market and Gambia needs Senegal’s market; we have do what it takes,” he asserted, while affirming their desire to integrate the economies of The Gambia and Senegal.

Dr Diop assured the Gambian delegates that they are very pleased with the relationship between the two presidents, reiterating that their vision is to make sure that the two countries have common economic, social as well as trade programmes.

Meanwhile, Minister Joof also Tours Diamniadio, Sandiara Industrial Sites in Dakar as part of his Dakar visit. 

The Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, Hon. Baboucarr Ousmaila Joof, led by his Senegalese counterpart Dr. Serigne Gueye Diop, minister of Commerce and Industry, visited Diamniadio and Sandiara industrial sites in Senegal.

At Diamniadio Industrial Zone, Minister Joof and delegation visited Aprosi Diamniadio Industrial Estate; Apix Office; Galion Senegal Company – producing plastic pot, packaging 56 thousand pieces per day; Sodipharm; Sam UK Senegal Sarl; Baobab SSHU Cardboard Manufacturing Plant; and IBS Beverage Industries of Senegal, bottler of Coca Cola

At Sandiara, the team, accompanied by Minister Diop and staff visited Ocedis Plastic Packaging Manufacturer; Hercules Lubricant, an engine oil company owned by Indians; and Hercules Recycling of lead and aluminum into ingots; Tire recycling which produces fuel, carbon and iron; Solance Industries, all types of automotive and solar batteries; Gravita Senegal, a factory that specialises in aluminum alloy recovered from tin cans or beverage cans.

Speaking to the press at the end of the tour, Minister Joof commended his Senegalese counterpart for giving him the opportunity to visit the Industrial Zones in Diamniadio and Sandiara, at the time when Presidents Faye and Barrow met and found it necessary that the two ministers come together to look at the barriers affecting trade between the two countries. According to him, if African integration is going to actually happen, it has to start from Senegal and The Gambia. 

The Trade minister said during his tour of the sites, he was exposed to two specific models and they are the Diamniadio Industrial Zone, which is a state investment, and the Sandiara Industrial Zone, which is created by the community and the private sector invested.

Noting the significance of the visit, Joof said this coincides with a moment his ministry is working towards setting up special economic and industrial zones that go along with Agro Poles to encourage agro processing. He disclosed that they have determined at ministry level that for trade to benefit The Gambia, they must ensure that their industrialisation strategy works. “We must encourage production and productivity, and value addition. This is when we will be able to boost our export and work on the current trade deficit that we have,” he stated.

For his part, Dr. Serigne Gueye Diop, minister of Industry and Commerce of Senegal, the delegation’s visit allows them to discuss commercial challenges and opportunities, share their experiences in industrial development, as well as create an avenue for collaboration.

Dr. Diop revealed that in Sandiara, they have about 5000 employees – 2000 employees in the factories and over 3000 in the farms. This, he said is meant to discourage the youths from taking to irregular emigration.

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