By: Kebba AF Touray
The Banjul-Brussels trade fare and investment mission forum began yesterday 25th January 2018.
The first ever bilateral economic mission according to officials, is aimed at strengthening trade ties between the two nations.
Mr. Lamin Gaye, the chairperson of the event indicated that the primary objective of the mission is to cement the already existing economic relations between Gambia and Belgium, with a view to provide more job opportunities in the country.
Mr. Philippe Colyn, Ambassador of Belgium to The Gambia, said last year’s peaceful transition in The Gambia, paved the way for the development of new and stronger relations between the two countries leading to the revival of ties; that the mission will help to further solidify political cooperation and economic partnership between Banjul and Brussels, which is as a result of their series of meetings and discussions with President Adama Barrow, during his visit to Belgium.
He revealed his confidence that the many contacts scheduled during this mission with Gambian officials and business partners, will allow Belgian Companies to get valuable first-hand information on the Gambia and to find business opportunities.
“I hope that this economic mission will sustain the commercial and economic ties between our two countries and will contribute to the emergence of The New Gambia”, he concludes
Mr. Peter de Roo of CBL-ACP congratulated The Gambia for the professional manner in which the mission modalities were moulded.
“At the CBL-ACP, we are delighted with this realization of this first Belgian Economic Mission to The New Gambia. It is something we have put in much effort and resources in terms of lobbying and working with stakeholders, last year”, he said.
He said this is motivated by the fact that Africa is the next economic frontier that will offer the most and best business opportunities in the coming decades, which he said, will certainly be the case for The Gambia.
“It should be clear that the time for The Gambia is now. One year ago The Gambia has set an example for Africa. Many positive changes have taken place in the country and the challenge now is to anchor them and you are the ones who can contribute in doing so”, he said
The Gambian Ambassador to Belgium, Teneng Mba Jaiteh, thanked her Belgian counterparts for the initial step taken with a view to explore the numerous investment opportunities that they have to offer.
She said during last year’s visit of the president, he held discussions with top Belgian authorities and key among them was the strengthening of bilateral ties and economic cooperation through trade and investment between the two nations. This she said was preceded with the Embassy’s engagements with the various Chambers of Commerce in Belgium, facilitated by their Desk Officer, Mr. Peter De Roo, to plan for a trade and investment mission to The Gambia and Senegal in early 2018.
She congratulated the stakeholders for the great initiative geared towards solidifying bilateral ties between Banjul and Brussels and assured them of their support in the realization of the primary aim of the mission.
Speaking earlier, H.E the Vice President Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang, revealed Government’s commitments in ensuring sustainable economic development for the shared prosperity of its citizens, reduce inequity and poverty and improve the well-being of all Gambians, as embedded in the recently validated National Development Plan (NDP).
She added that cognizant of the daunting responsibilities on the new regime, the Government of The Gambia opened its doors to create avenues for both local and foreign private sector operators to invest and establish businesses in The Gambia.
“This we strongly believe will create a mutually beneficial relationship between the public and private sector and restore confidence of the latter in Government”, She stressed.
She reiterated that Government seeks increased and diversified investments and job creation opportunities across all the regions of the country, which she noted is the only way to provide better livelihoods for the citizenry.
Other speakers at the occasion hailed officials of the two states for what they described as a historic mission, aimed at strengthening ties between the countries and called for collective efforts in making the mission a fruitful one.