5 December 2012

Gambia: Amcham Offers More Opportunities for Strong Gambia-US Trade Relations

The American Chamber of Commerce (AMCham) The Gambia Friday held its 2nd Annual Business Dinner at the Sheraton Resort and Spa on the theme, 'Trade and Tourism with the United States of America'. The event was part of activities marking the Global Entrepreneurship Week which is also observed in over 120 countries across the globe.

The event was meant to foster entrepreneurship, strengthen business-to-business interaction and economic relations between the US and The Gambia as well as the economic power behind tourism.

AMCham was established in The Gambia in May 2010 with a self-mandate of encouraging entrepreneurship, help business prosper and grow, increase trade opportunities and facilitate business trade as well as export and import between The Gambia and US by promoting The Gambia as an export hub under the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA).

In his deliberation on the topic, 'future trade relations between The Gambia and the US', Edward M. Alford, the US ambassador to The Gambia, described The Gambia as the 185th largest trading partner of the United States of America. He spoke on the significance of education in trade in the international market and noted that The Gambia's growing population with much more educated people would help address that in the future. "With the improving business climate and wide range of entrepreneurship, we hope to see more business opportunities between The Gambia and the United Stated," he said.

The US ambassador noted that capital could be very expensive in this business relation, but promised that the US would be willing to work and help individual business persons with very good business plans. He further assured that the US would work with the government and business sector to increase the prosperity of Gambia-US trade relations in the future.

He said trade relations between Banjul and Washington is getting better but stressed that the quality of good produce in The Gambia would be an issue that the AMCham has to address in order to increase exportation to the US.

Ambassador Alford said that the economic factor also contributes to the low trade relations between The Gambia and the US, adding that 10% of the Gambia's GDP comes from abroad with a greater part of remittances from the US. He finally applauded AMCham for organising such an important event.

On his part, Francis Mboge, the representative of the minister of Trade Industry, Employment and Regional Integration, who dilated on the 'unique opportunities for Gambian and American enterprises to actualise PAGE', said the opportunity promotes growth where there is peace and stability.

He pointed out that one of the most important things about the PAGE is to build strong partnership particularly with the US.He indicated that AGOA has a potential commercial link between the US and Africa, while noting that it is something that stimulates growth. He outlined two major significant areas such as agriculture and fisheries, where AMCham can help build robust trade relations with The Gambia and the US through AGOA.

Mboge added that the country's value chain in agriculture has been changed for commercial reasons, while describing fish trading as another potential area for AGOA-Gambia trade relations in the near future. He then urged Gambian businessmen and women to seize the enormous opportunities also offered by AGOA.

Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, the minister of Tourism and Culture, deliberated on the topic, 'Reinventing roots-retrace your heritage to the Smiling Coast of Africa'. She said that there is a very vital trade relation that would really forge a way forward between the two countries in future. She underscored the importance of the International Roots Homing Festival which is due to be observed in the country early next year, saying the festival offers special opportunities for African-Americans in the US to come and see The Gambia as the roots of their ancestors.

"History shows millions of the Americans whose ancestors were sold as slaves to work on the plantations of the United States," she said, while paying tribute to the African-American called Alex Haley, who she said authored a book on the Gambian Kunta Kinteh, who was sold as a slave to the US. She said the book has effectively burst the Kunta Kinteh Island on the global limelight, making it one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the globe.

For his part, Modou Drammeh, director of Enterprise at GIEPA, highlighted the entrepreneurship development in the country. He described his Agency as a source of livelihood for the majority of the population.

Other speakers included Abdoulie Touray, the president of AMCham and Julius Freeman, the executive director of AMCham.

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