Trade Facilitation

The development of trade-related infrastructure has always been a priority to Government and a lot of investment has gone into the improvement of road, port and airport infrastructures. The overall objective is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of these structures in supporting production and making The Gambia as a transit hub.

1.a  Road Infrastructure
The objective of the transport sector is to develop an efficient road network that will support production in the economy as well as position The Gambia as a transit hub in the region.
To achieve this objective, Government with the support of the development partners has invested significantly in the development and improvement of the transport infrastructure. A National Transport Policy has been formulated and is been implemented. Government has also established a National Road Authority for the planning, programming and implementation of road maintenance and other road investments.
Government will therefore continue to strengthen and improve on the road network, particularly the transit corridor, to attain the objective of positioning The Gambia has a transit hub.
1.b  Port Services
The Government, through the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), will continue to pursue its objective of developing the Port of Banjul into a leading maritime center for trade, logistics and distribution as well as achieve the status of a regional hub. To achieve this objective, GPA is implementing the Ports Master Plan (2003 – 2020) developed in 2002. The focus is to strengthen the position of the Port of Banjul as a gateway to the region by improving its competitiveness and efficiency. To this end, the Port has made a number of interventions that have improved ship turnaround and cargo handling productivity. The GPA has also reviewed and reduced some of its tariffs in 2004 and again in 2007 to make them more competitive and has recently started the Ports Expansion Programme by negotiating and acquiring the residential area close to its premises to create space for port development.
Government will therefore continue to pursue its objective of modernising the Ports of Banjul through the Ports expansion projects, acquire the necessary state-of-art equipment to enhance productivity and sustain its competitiveness.
1.c   Airport Services
Government continues to upgrade the airport infrastructure at the Banjul International Airport (BIA) to ensure that it is well maintained and efficient and attracts more flights. The Airport now has more flights to cities in the sub-region and beyond. The charges for the various airport services have been reviewed and reduced enabling Banjul International Airport to offer very competitive tariff rates.
Government will continue to pursue its objective of ensuring that efficiency at the airport is constantly improved, encouraging the provision of excellent storage facilities for merchandize imports and exports as well as ensuring availability of cargo space for exports by air.
1.d   Development of Warehouses
As part of the strategy of the Trade Policy to promote transit trade, Government will compliment customs and port services with appropriate and excellent trade-related infrastructures including the provision of adequate warehousing to enhance security and preservation of goods. The Gambia Ports Authority is currently expanding its warehousing facilities as well as putting in place modern equipment for moving goods to and from the warehouses.
There is however the need to encourage the private sector in the provision of warehouses to compliment the efforts of the Gambia Port Authority.
1.e   Strategies for hard infrastructure
The Government of The Gambia will pursue the following strategies to improve hard infrastructure. In that the Government will:
  • continue to invest in the improvement of transit corridors to facilitate and attract more transit trade. The development of new road infrastructure will also be pursued aimed at improving the overall quality of the road network. This will be pursued through the implementation of the national transport policy and the National Transport Plan.
  • GPA will continue to implement the Port Master Plan to achieve its gateway objective. Funds will be mobilised to implement the Yard and Jetty Extension Projects as well as dredge the entrance channel and purchase the necessary equipment to improve productivity and efficiency. Coastal shipping linking the Port of Banjul to other ports in the sub-region will also be pursued.
  • encourage more flights especially cargo and commercial flights into the Gambia, strengthen the handling facilities and expand on the storage facilities at the airport.
  • encourage partnership with the private sector in the provision of certain airport services including the provision of storage facilities.
  • encourage partnership with the private sector in the provision of warehouses for various products, state-of-the art equipment for transportation and handling facilities to maintain efficiency.
1.a   Customs clearance of goods
The Gambia Government continues to invest immensely in enhancing trade facilitation and boost the competiveness of the business environment. As part of these efforts, government created the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) in 2007. After three years of operations, GRA has made progress in further simplifying its customs procedures to cut down on administrative costs and enhance efficiency by upgrading its system to ASYCUDA++ which is now operational.
Significant progress has therefore been made in simplifying procedural requirements for the import and export of goods. Goods are cleared within one or two days and this has significantly reduced the turnaround time for clearing goods at the Port of Banjul.
The Government will continue to adopt measures that simplify procedural requirements, enhance transparency and ensure effectiveness in clearing of goods.
1.b   Business Registration
Registering a business in The Gambia is governed by the Business Registration Act 2005. The Act indicates the necessary steps to register a business but in practice the process involves several institutions. The registration of a business requires a tax deposit with the Gambia Revenue Authority. The deposit is paid together with a registration fee and stamp duty. The amount to be paid depends on whether the business is being registered as a company, sole proprietorship, or partnership.
The process of registering a business requires the filing of the following documents with the Registrar of Companies:
  • Memorandum of Association - includes the name and registered place of business of the company, its objectives and authorized share capital subscribed by each shareholder.
  • Articles of Association - provides information on the organizational structure and operational rules of the company.
  • Receipts of payment of Stamp Duty and Business Registration fees from the Gambia Revenue Authority.
  • Tax Identification Number (TIN) - A unique reference number used by the Gambia Revenue Authority to identify a business’s tax record.
The Government will adopt measures to ease the process of registering businesses in The Gambia as well as enable effective follow ups to track the development of registered businesse
1.c   Other Non-Tariff Barriers
The Government of The Gambia will intensify its efforts to address the non-tariff barriers that to some extent tremendously adds cost of trading in The Gambia. One of the challenges of The Gambia as a transit hub is road transportation. The Gambia transit corridors are characterised by numerous checkpoints in spite of government efforts to reduce them. This causes delays in the flow of goods and therefore adds cost to doing business as well as transiting goods from The Gambia.
To reduce or overcome these problems, particularly for transit goods, government committed itself to the implementation of the ECOWAS Inter-State Road Transit Scheme (ISRT) by appointing the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry as the National Guarantor for the coordination and implementation of the ISRT in The Gambia. A guarantee fund has been created with seed money from the Government and the scheme launched in 2008.
Government will pursue the effective implementation of the ISRT and adopt measures to enhance the smooth flow of goods and people along the Gambian routes.
1.d   TBT and SPS Measures Applicable to Imports and Exports
The Food Act, 2005 provides the main framework for SPS standards-setting and compliance in The Gambia. The overall responsibility for coordinating food health and nutrition issues is vested in the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA). The National Codex Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Committee (NCSPSC), the Food Control Advisory Board, and the Food Compliance Committee have responsibility for the application of the Act and development of measures for animal, plant, and food protection.
The Government will therefore continue to promote the competitiveness of national industries and enterprises and ensure compliance to international standards, in particular the WTO TBT and SPS Agreements. Through the EU-funded West African Quality Programme, support is being provided for four laboratories to improve testing and acquire international accreditation in different fields: the National Agricultural Research Institute laboratory, for aflatoxin testing on groundnuts; the Fisheries laboratory, for microbiology testing of fish; the National Health laboratory, for chemical testing of foods; and the Veterinary laboratory, for microbiology testing of foods of animal origin. The project is also establishing a metrology laboratory by providing the basic equipment necessary for the delivery of metrology services to commerce, industry, as well as other laboratories.
All imported food items should meet requirements under the Food Act (2005), monitored and enforced by the Directorate of Food Safety and Quality Hygiene Enforcement under the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. Imports of animals, marine life, plants, their products, and processed foods of plant or animal origin, must be accompanied by an import certificate issued in accordance with Codex Alimentarius quality control requirements. In addition, food items into The Gambia require a certificate from the manufacturer indicating that the food was manufactured in accordance with an existing acceptable standard or code of conduct pertaining to the product; or where such standard or code of conduct does not exist, any international standard laid down by the Codex Alimentarius Commission; or a certificate issued by the government of the exporting country that its sale does not contravene it’s the law.
Imports of cereals, pulses or legumes, including rice, require phytosanitary certificates issued by the National Plant protection Service of the country of origin, and fumigation certificates issued by the exporting company or an approved company.
1.e   Strategies for the soft infrastructure
The objective of Government is to provide state-of-the art equipment and infrastructure meant to expedite the clearance of goods, enhance the free movement of goods and persons, and attract transit trade. Measures will also be adopted to ensure imported and domestically produced goods meet required standards to enhance market access for Gambian exports. To this end, the following strategies will be adopted and implemented by the concerned institutions:
  • Fully implement the ASYCUDA++ advanced automated system for customs clearance of goods at all major entry points;
  • Computerise all the major customs border posts to enhance the efficient delivery of services at these points;
  • Continue to enhance the capacity of customs and other relevant agencies to ensure efficiency in customs clearance.
  • Establish one-stop-shop for the clearance of import and export formalities.
  • Create a one-stop-shop to reduce the waiting period and procedures for registration of businesses.
  • Create an automated system for registration of businesses and create a database to enhance the follow-up on registered companies.
  • Promote the implementation of the ISRT.
  • Reduce the number of checkpoints along the transit routes to key strategic points without compromising the national security objective.
  • Put in place measures to strengthen monitoring for compliance of imports and exports to standards, including the formulation of a quality policy and the establishment of food and safety agency.
  • Strengthen the capacity of institutions dealing with standards.

The Government of the Gambia has over the years invested substantially and adopted rules and regulations to improve the trade facilitation systems in The Gambia. A lot of focus is put into improving the road infrastructure, customs clearance of goods, delivery of ports services. The overall policy objective is to ensure efficiency in the following areas to improve competitiveness and ease of doing business.