National Assembly’s Trade Committee Engages GRA Officials on Senegambia Trade Agreement

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By Kebba AF Touray

Alhagie Mbye, the Commissioner of Customs has informed the National Assembly that the Gambia and Senegal had signed an agreement on trade facilitation protocol.

Commissioner Mbye said it was developed by the Gambia and the countries have signed an agreement on how to implement it.

The National Assembly Select Committee on Trade on Tuesday, 30April engaged the Customs Department of the Gambia Revenue Authority. The legislators are planning to go to Senegal and discuss with their fellow parliamentarians and relevant actors in the trade sector on the way forward for the two countries in terms of trading. The allegation is that the Senegalese do not respect the agreements they have with The Gambia thereby affecting the people.

The engagement was mainly regarding the proposed trade facilitation tour to Senegal, where the delegation will meet and discuss with the revenue authority of Senegal.

Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Kebba Jallow, explained that the meeting was triggered by the outcome of the observation made by their predecessor committee, who discovered that the Senegalese were not honoring the protocols that they have ratified. Chairperson Jallow said the Gambia border security personnel find it difficult to deal with their counterparts in Senegalese, who do not observe the protocols or agreements.

Jallow said predecessor committee tabled a report on the issue, which was discussed at the level of the plenary and they agreed that in the Sixth Legislature, the Committee on Trade should embark on a study tour to Senegal. The idea is to meet the Trade Committee of the Senegalese parliament and other relevant actors to have dialogue on the issues affecting trade between the two countries.

Honourable Jallow said once a country signs a protocol, then it is subjecting itself to it – meaning the provisions therein should be respected and applied.

The tour is expected to address the challenges of all non-tariff barriers which are confronting the business community in the Gambia.

The legislative committee is with the view that the protocol is essential as it will help increase compliance. They pointed out that Senegal does not adhere to the Protocol on the TSRT and another one called “AID DE MOIRE”.

“We are disadvantaged in everything. These are global and international protocols that they have signed, but they are not respecting it. Goods in transit should be allowed to move freely without hindrance. It is in all the international protocols such as the WTOT, which they have assented to but they are not respecting them,” Mbye said.

“Both [Ministry of Trade] and GRA have submitted all their concerns in the document with the objective for their counterparts to address. Two of them have been partially addressed recently, and that is dealing with the trend wherein if Gambian goods are going to Mali, instead of going directly to the border, they were being asked to go to Ziguinchor.”

Mbye said the matter has been resolved. He explained that vehicles from the Giboro border in Gambia now proceed to the border in Senegal without double escort.

He went on to highlight to the committee that their issues with trade are cross-cutting dealing with issues such as the ETLS, Cashew trade, and there is need for frank discussion so that the issues can be addressed.

“Prior to our departure, we have to sit down and discuss all the issues affecting us, so that it will form part of our agenda of discussion when we eventually go to Senegal,” said Commissioner of Customs, Alhagie Mbye.

Kutubo Jarju from the Ministry of Trade Industry and Employment emphasised that the National Assembly should study and understand the AIDE MEMIOR to come up with a position paper to be used.

Photo: Customs Officials