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Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Trade ministry meets private sector to discuss preparedness for AfCFTA

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By Oumie Bojang

The Ministry of Trade Regional Integration and Employment recently had dialogue with the private sector to evaluate their preparedness in implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Since its launch, member states have been slow to trade and conduct business under AfCFTA. As a result, the African Union launched the Guided Trade Initiative in October 2022 with the purpose of guiding selected Private Sector actors to trading profitably under AfCFTA, which Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire are signées to. The Gambia requested to join the initiative in order to acquire support for the private sector to commence trading under the AfCFTA.

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Babucarr Ousmaila Joof, Minister of Trade, addressing the gathering, said the private sector is an important pillar of the economy, and the forum will provide much-needed platform to discuss the country’s readiness, and to effectively participate in the AfCFTA so The Gambia can benefit from the opportunities it offers.

Joof added that the AfCFTA agreement is the single most ambitious undertaking made by the African Union Commission, in advancing the course of the African integration since the launch of the Agenda 2063. “The Africa we want, the African Union’s long-term development strategy for transforming the continent into a global powerhouse. It aims at boosting intra-African trade to promote economic growth, structural transformation, and industrialisation of the African economies.”

He said the AfCFTA will strengthen Africa’s economic integration, and implementation of the Agreement will significantly affect the well-being of Africa’s farmers, workers and entrepreneurs, particularly women and youth. He said it would bring benefits to SMEs in the formal sector as well as micro-enterprises in the informal sector, through boosting the demand for manufactured goods.

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Momodou Hydara, Manager of Jah Oil Company, inquired to what extent is the government willing to protect the investors and business as the market is so unpredictable that businesses are reluctant to expand. He urged the government to not just write policies on paper, organise dialogues but ensure that they are applied and implemented.

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