The Gambia is an investment haven. This potential and promise is predicated upon sound and consistent macroeconomic polices, constitutional guarantees against expropriation of investment and for protection of investment
The Gambia has an investment policy, which is premised on six important pillars/premises. These pillars essentially include:
- Liberal, free market economic environment together with appropriate political and social policy and programme framework;
- adherence to the principles of democratic governance, constitutional guarantee of rights to freedom and liberty, welfare, property ownership and protection. In this regard, the country is constitutionally obliged to encourage, promote and protect beneficial investment as the enabler of socioeconomic change and progress.
- Full integration into the wider global economy through her membership of and adherence to charters and principles of Economic Community Of WEST AFRICAN STATES, ORGANISATION OR AFRICAN UNITY, World Trade Organisation, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), African Development Bank, The World Bank Group, ACP-EU Convention, Islamic Development Bank and a host of bilateral trade agreements among others. These testify to the national resolve at participation and integration in the global economy.
- Articulation of policies and strategies to make The Gambia a trade and investment gateway to the Western Africa sub-regional and the larger African regional market. The uniqueness of the country's location on the Atlantic coast of West Africa, proximity to European and North American markets, a highly efficient port system, state-of-the-art telecommunication infrastructure, high water table and ideal climate for horticulture, unrivalled rich climate and sea resource for tourism and sea resource exploitation amongst a host of other qualities, have placed the Gambia at a comparatively advantageous position to become the sub-regional hegemony in trade and services;
- Conducive legal and institutional framework with labour laws that support and encourage collective bargaining in line with the stipulation of the Labour Act;
A national resolve and commitment to transform The Gambia into a middle income country by the year 2020
The Priority Areas of Investment in The Gambia
Although foreign and domestic investment is encouraged in virtually all the sectors of the Gambian economy, the Government is giving the highest priority to, and is especially keen about increased flow of investment into the following areas:
- Agriculture, especially in horticulture, floriculture, animal husbandry, fruit/vegetable processing and canning;
- Fisheries and forestry exploitation;
- Tourism and travel;
- Light manufacturing and assembling;
- Energy (electricity)
- mineral exploration and exploitation especially in the country's hydrocarbon potential;
- communication and services in light of the new national policies geared towards deregulation, divestiture and opening up of this subsector.
Importantly, the Government is, at the moment, in the advanced stages of planning to establish Free Economic Zones (FEZ) and special industrial zones within a Free Zone Authority. It is hoped that this will facilitate access to locations, industrial services and related infrastructure for profitable investment (see details on the Trade Gateway Project).
Notwithstanding Government's wishes in influencing location of investment, the investment and other Government policies do not have any restrictions on the range of business activities in which investors may engage. The government is maintaining its open-door non-discriminatory policy of ensuing that no foreign investor is subject to restrictions that are not applicable to domestic investors and vice versa. The policy also seeks to encourage equity participation of foreign investors as a means of enhancing the spread and transfer of technology, technical, managerial and entrepreneurial skills.
There are legal guarantees and protections too………
Within the broad legal framework, the Government assures investors security of title and guarantees that investment in the country will not be expropriated. There is also a statutory guarantee for contract enforcement, recourse to legal systems for redress and binding arbitration conclusions. These are all part of a well-established legal system whose independence and integrity continue to be guaranteed by the national Constitution.
There are incentives and concessions for which investors can be eligible ………..
The Government of the Gambia accords investors certain incentives and concessions. To be eligible for these an investor has to fall under the special investment category . To be classified in the special investment category an investor has to fulfill three eligibility criteria. Firstly, the investment must be organised as a company or a partnership under the laws of The Gambia. Secondly, value of tangible capital has to reach a minimum of US$100 000 or its local/freely convertible currency equivalent. Thirdly, the investment must be in the list of highly prioritised sectors (already noted above). Upon meeting these criteria, an investor will be issued a certificate of Special Investment by the Secretary of State for Trade, Industry and Employment for a period of three years. The implementation of the concessions and incentive package under the special investment shall be monitored to ensure compliance with the rights and obligations of special investment.
Incentives awarded to investors in the special category include:
- exemptions from custom duties on approved capital equipment, machinery, fixtures and fittings including furniture and appliances used in establishing the project;
- exemption from customs duties for approved quantities of semi-finished products, spare parts, raw materials and other production supplies;
- sales tax exemption on all of the above mentioned imported goods;
- exemption from turnover tax payment obligation;
- special scheme of accelerated depreciation administered as part of the general tax law of The Gambia;
- preferential treatment in the allocation of land for the site of the proposed investment.
The Trade Policy for The Gambia: Proposal Towards a New Trade Regime
The Gambia has an open-door, liberal trade policy. The country is seeking an export led growth through value added productivity and, to that end, the government is committed to elimination of tariff and non tariff barriers. There are no quantitative restrictions on imports and tariffs have been reviewed and lowered. Consequent upon this review a tariff rationalisation has been effected and includes tariff reduction to a maximum of 18% and the reduction of tariff bands to four (4) economic groupings. Tariff levels in The Gambia will be subject to further review in order to ensure that The Gambia remains competitive.
Tariff Regime in The Gambia
The tariff regime of The Gambia is based on the Harmonized System (HS). Only eight (8) of the tariff lines are specific, whiles the rest are all ad-valorem rates. Most rates are below 30%,and only 0.5% of all the lines have a rate which exceed 40%.
The current tariff rates range from 0% (duty free) for some capital equipment, raw materials and goods imported by the government, to 90% on luxury goods. There are 31 rates in the HS-tariff schedule. There still exists much scope for refining certain areas of the tariff regime in order to evolve a more competitive schedule towards improved and liberal trade development in The Gambia.