Your Highness, Distinguished Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Your Excellencies fellow Heads of State here present, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps
Your Excellency, Distinguished Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Distinguished personalities here with us to grace this auspicious occasion All Protocols duly and respectfully observed
A very good morning to you all.
On behalf of my delegation, I extend our sincere appreciation and gratitude to His Highness the Ruler of Dubai for organizing and inviting all of us to this important global forum. I commend His Highness and the people of Dubai for the warm welcome and excellent hospitality accorded to us.
The rationale for this forum is generally to bring global leaders, business entities, investors and other stakeholders together to discuss the growing urgency to improve human livelihood and development through investment and trade.
In today’s globalized world the two are critical pillars for socio economic development and one of the greatest equalizers in this imbalanced world. It is my strong view that governments must create the conducive environment for trade and investment to flourish. Clearly, trade is driven by investment, and we place our priorities – on attracting and realising the right investments in our respective economies.
As you are all aware, at the global level, the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement sets the bedrock for prioritising the investment needs in the Global Trading Environment.
The ongoing efforts to mainstream investment into the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement further supports the fundamental role and effect investment gives to trade and development.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the national level and in line with these efforts, my government is fully aware of the need to invest in hard infrastructure as one of the greatest enablers for increased trade. Investment priorities in energy, technology for automation, road infrastructure, transportation, modern port and cargo facilities and ICT cannot and must not be overlooked.
These essential support elements serve as critical trade enablers and facilitators that promote efficiency, high turnaround time, connectivity and reliability among others. My government has made giant leaps in bringing about a progressive and vibrant trade and investment policy and governance environment under the new Gambia. In addition our Constitution guards against nationalization of businesses and assets, guarantees protection of investment and profit repatriation. There also exists a set of encouraging policy pronouncements and legislation that support and recognise the private sector as the engine of economic growth. These are evident in our legal framework such as the GIEPA Act, and The Gambia Trade Policy 2017.
My government is committed to ensure a vibrant and growing private sector within the dictates of liberalisation and sound governance practices including transparency and respect for rule of law and due process.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Gambia, like many other developing countries still faces numerous challenges in dealing with its massive trade imbalance. In line with our National Development Plan, measures are being implemented to boost capacity in the productive sectors of the economy such as agriculture, mineral exploration, fisheries, manufacturing and tourism. These provide huge opportunities for investment especially in the area of value addition.
The Gambia under the current dispensation has seen a big increase in the importation of goods resulting to the inevitable congestion of port facilities. Although, this can naturally translate in the slow turnaround of discharge of goods and prolonged anchorage of vessels, the situation overwhelmingly points to an enormous investment opportunity for port expansion and modernization.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, In addressing some of the challenges, my government, through the Central Bank of The Gambia has endeavoured to reduce public sector borrowing by decreasing Treasury Bills interest rates to 3.5% per annum. The corresponding effect is the lowering of commercial bank lending rates which is critical for private sector investment in the economy.
The effort to a large extent compliments global and regional development financing structures for investment in trade and in the much needed productive sectors of the economy. Thus the financing opportunities offered by regional and international bodies such as the OIC to improve trade performance between member countries, should be leveraged through strategic partnerships.
Investments in capacity building through strategic technical assistance programs cannot be swept under the carpet. Trade capacity must be built to respond to gaps in compliance with standards, technical regulations and country-specific market requirements.
This is critical for export performance and competitiveness in the sophisticated multilateral trading platform.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, It is my fervent belief that it is through investment in trade, infrastructural development, in a legal and conducive environment and enhanced capacity supported by stronger bilateral relations that we can effectively harness the demographic dividend through trade for the development of our respective peoples and nations.
I thank you all for your attention.