The Gambia is currently America’s 185th largest goods trading partner with $42 million in total (two way) goods trade during 2014. The U.S. goods trade surplus with Gambia was $41 million in 2014. Goods exports from the U.S. to The Gambia took nearly all of the totaled $42 million. Only US$298 thousand worth of goods were imported from The Gambia to the U.S.
This was when The Gambia was eligible for the preferential AGOA trade deal. The numbers over the years have dropped significantly as The Gambia under President Yahya Jammeh was politely sanctioned and politically isolated.
But the U.S. is not The Gambia’s main trading partner. China is. The Gambia exports US$41.7 million worth of goods to China and imports US$334 million worth of goods from the Asian nation.
China’s President Xi Jinping had congratulated Gambia’s President-elect Adama Barrow and renewed his committed to working with The Gambia on improved bilateral relations. Key among such agreements is trade. But Mr. Jinping remains mute over President Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to step down.
Gambians import at least US$1.14 billion worth of goods and only one West African nation have an impact on Gambia’s trade: its neighbor, Senegal. Gambians import US91.6M worth of good from Senegal. These are mostly by petty women traders. Senegal has demanded Jammeh steps down. This neighbor of The Gambia surrounds The Gambia on all three sides except for the West. A border impasse this Spring nearly brought The Gambian economy to its knees.
Members of the country’s Chamber of Commerce are troubled by the current political deadlock following President Jammeh’s rejection of the December 1 presidential election results and say the ongoing political crisis is causing great uncertainty in the business community with adverse consequences to the economy.
Brazil, India, and Indonesia will no doubt respect any sanctions on Jammeh. They are key trading partners. A suffering trade with Senegal will result to an uprising by Gambians to oust Jammeh if he refuses to leave. It will lead to many sufferings that may force the military to overthrow his government and with international pressure have Barrow installed.
But this is not the direction that the country must go. To avoid such impact on trade as businesses and investors will be looking at The Gambia in the coming years under Barrow, the Chamber of Commerce has called on President Jammeh to accept the election results announced by the independent electoral commission, which is a reflection of the will of the Gambian people.
“In the interest of the nation, we urge the incumbent to preserve the peace and political stability of our nation by accepting the results,” said Muhammed Jagana, President of the Chamber of Commerce.
The world’s 172nd largest importer may face a worse trade balance than in 2014 if Jammeh holds on to power. As of 2014, the Gambia had a negative trade balance of US$927M in net imports. When Jammeh came to power, the country’s trade balance in 1995 was at a negative of US$234M in net imports.