By Isatou Kanyi
The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), together with a delegation from Turkey, held a business forum on Monday January 27th 2020, at a local hotel in Kololi. The multi-sectorial business forum seeks to strengthen entrepreneurship ties among the country’s private sectors and by extension bilateral trade relations between Banjul and Istanbul. The business delegation as alluded to by the GCCI is said to facilitate business partnership between the Gambia and Turkey.
Lamin Jobe, the Minister of Trade, Industry Regional Integration and Employment, said the Turkish clothing and home textile industries have had a significant role in the world’s clothing and home textile markets.
‘‘We understand that Turkey’s apparel sector is the second biggest following the automotive sector. The clothing and textile industry is largely based on cotton and domestic output does not fully meet their demand. This makes Turkey the World’s third largest cotton importer,” Jobe said; that about 8% of the cotton traded in the World market is harvested in Sub-Saharan Africa which has much more planting capacity and a competitive advantage due to AGOA the duty-free access of exports to the larger US market.
He further explained that the Gambia has 43.5% arable land; that in the past, cotton used to be the second cash crop after groundnuts. He disclosed that work has already begun in reviving the sector starting in the Upper River Region (URR) considering that the country’s main cash crop has lost its value in the international market.
‘‘We are promoting the production of cotton, cashew, sesame and horticulture as well as light manufacturing and ICT. I believe that in this regard, Turkey can provide technology and vocational education to increase this percentage and gain mutual benefit,’’ he said.
He said Turkey has charted the future course, demonstrating the country’s strong desire to be relevant to the needs of Africa and making the partnership more meaningful.
Minister Jobe highlighted some of the key reforms including the development of a new Investment Policy in 2018, to strengthen GIEPA amongst others.