The government of The Gambia, in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) held a validation workshop on The Gambia’s national AfCFTA implementation strategy from 2-3 March in Banjul.

The National AfCFTA Implementation Strategy for The Gambia identifies priority actions to be undertaken by the government to effectively realise the potential benefits of the AfCFTA. The strategy identifies measures to ensure adequate implementation of the provisions of the agreement at national levels; to prioritise products that are high value with high potential for export into various African markets and to improve and scale sustainable participation in regional value chains.

In addition, the national strategy highlights crosscutting issues including gender, youth, MSMEs as well as environment and climate change in order to ensure inclusivity and sustainability. It recommends a National Implementation Committee (NIC) whose overall mandate is to oversee implementation of the strategy and a monitoring and evaluation framework that will track progress on the implementation of the agreement.

MrLamin Dampha, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade said: “…there will be challenged in implementation. However, we urge all stakeholders to address issues fairly but also expeditiously. Implementation will mean reform of procedures and rules at the national level. However, this won’t happen overnight and it will be a process that requires dialogue and flexibility.”

MrDavid Luke, Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre of the ECA, on his part noted that the expected benefits of the AfCFTA will not come automatically. The Gambia, just as other African countries, needs to prioritise where opportunities lie for diversification and integration into regional value chains for both goods and services. He further mentioned the importance of the government to work closely with the private sector in order to create a conducive business environment that enable the private sector to produce and trade in African markets.

MrLuke acknowledged that tariff liberalisation as envisaged under the AfCFTA will result in revenue loss in an already relatively challenging fiscal framework in The Gambia. The draft strategy document recommends that the Gambia should seek adjustment support to compensate for this.

Policymakers and experts from the public, private sector, civil society, youth, women and academia have gathered to review and validate the national strategy and come up with recommendations for the effective implementation of the strategy.

The work in The Gambia on implementing the AfCFTA is part of a comprehensive project aimed at deepening Africa’s trade integration through effective implementation of the AfCFTA. Financially supported by the European Union and Global Affairs Canada, ECA has been working with its partners including the African Union Commission (AUC), International Trade Centre (ITC), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and independent trade experts to ensure effective AfCFTA implementation strategies.

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